December 11, 2023

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A new dawn for supercomputing at ASU

8 min read
May possibly 26, 2022

The new Sol supercomputer expands electrical power and ability for researchers and pupils alike

Arizona State University’s supercomputing capability is about to bounce light-many years forward with the addition of its new Sol supercomputer.

Sol will enable ASU to broaden its suite of massive-scale computing solutions to additional progress investigation and studying across the university and the region.

“This signifies an unprecedented investment in ASU’s research computing ecosystem,” said Sally C. Morton, govt vice president of the ASU Knowledge Company. “Supercomputing presently undergirds a great lots of of our attempts, and the addition of Sol presents researchers across all disciplines incredible extra means to progress their perform.”

An initiative of Awareness Enterprise’s Exploration Computing facility, Sol was funded through the Business of the President and the University Technological innovation Office’s Information and facts Technologies Bond and co-built by Dell Technologies. As a Dell Systems Large Efficiency Computing and Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence, ASU leveraged a shut connection with the personal computer and software package giant to design and fabricate the new supercomputer. Various tutorial and sector counterparts also contributed to Sol’s layout and specifications.

At present in early obtain, Sol is anticipated to be offered to all school and learners by late summer season 2022. Scientists can ask for obtain to Sol via Investigate Computing.

The electricity of Sol

“Sol provides ability, electrical power and pace to our supercomputing infrastructure by an order of magnitude,” said Neal Woodbury, vice president and chief science and technological innovation officer at Know-how Business. “It will let our scientists and companions to tackle even even larger troubles and make additional impression.”

Sol is a welcome addition to ASU’s current Agave supercomputer, which will also stay operational. Deployed in 2018, Agave has been regularly up-to-date with new parts to meet up with the requirements of researchers and students alike — but know-how improvements quickly, and Agave can only be upgraded so substantially.

“The Agave system is getting old, and as areas age out, it results in being more difficult to retain them going,” explained Douglas Jennewein, senior director of Investigation Computing, which manages ASU’s supercomputing resources. “Replacements are more challenging to arrive by, and warranties expire.”

By means of typical updates, Agave has somewhere around doubled in dimension due to the fact launch, more necessitating a new supercomputer.

“We’re type of hitting our heads on the ceiling with Agave,” Jennewein reported. “We’ve loaded up all of the network ports on our main community switches, and we’re operating out of spots to up grade.”

Desktops use central processing units, or CPUs, as their principal “hub,” processing directions from their factors to carry out duties. Though your desktop or laptop computer usually uses a single CPU, supercomputers incorporate scores of them, clustered as nodes. This puts the “super” in “supercomputer,” as nodes pool their merged processing electricity and collaborate on big-scale difficulties over and above the scope of traditional computers. Sol will deliver 18,000 point out-of-the-artwork CPU cores to the desk, not only rising processing and computing electricity, but also growing accessibility to these resources.

Sol will also incorporate additional graphical processing models, or GPUs, to Investigate Computing’s overall infrastructure. These are not the GPUs that deliver pristine graphics in a gaming Computer, nevertheless. Supercomputer GPUs are applied for specialized scientific computing, this sort of as device finding out and 3D modeling.

“We are creating a massive motivation to GPUs with this new cluster, and it is interesting,” stated Gil Speyer, director of the Computational Exploration Accelerator, which identifies chances to enhance and speed up scientific strategies across all disciplines via superior-impact hardware and computer software options.

“GPUs have acquired a great deal of notice not long ago mainly because they’re seriously excellent for resolving synthetic intelligence-connected troubles,” Speyer stated. “Not only are they beneficial when utilized to impression info sets, but scientists are now making use of AI to other forms of complications as properly.”

For instance, GPUs can ability AI modeling of protein folding, a exact mobile process in which proteins come to be certain 3-dimensional shapes to have out organic capabilities properly. Proteins that unfold or misfold add to numerous diseases, this kind of as Alzheimer’s illness and cancer.

While GPUs have historically underpinned protein modeling, the work of AI to additional swiftly resolve protein buildings is a the latest paradigm change in the self-discipline, Speyer claimed.

Although Agave introduced with minimal GPU capability, Sol possesses 261 Nvidia A100 80-gigabyte GPUs right out of the gate. This will give considerably broader obtain to GPUs, a transformative and extremely sought-after computing capacity that has been sorely lacking, Jennewein stated.

Sol will lighten the load on Agave, which finished a record-breaking 9 million CPU-hours of computing in April 2022. Sol’s supplemental capability will double that quantity to 18 million CPU-hrs of computing when entirely operational. That signifies just about every month Sol will total the equivalent of 2,000 years’ worthy of of computation on a standard computer system.

Correct to its namesake, Sol is more substantial and makes more warmth than its predecessor, demanding a a lot more specialized facility than ASU provides. When Agave is found at ISTB1 on the Tempe campus, Sol is housed at the nearby Iron Mountain Data Centre. The Phoenix facts middle is the initial in North The usa to obtain a BREEAM design certification, a leading position for sustainable design. Iron Mountain’s facility attributes industrial cooling, FISMA large-compliant protection, large-velocity network connectivity and redundant ability to make certain basic safety and dependability.

“We have a great deal of area to grow, and we will,” Jennewein explained. “Agave is now a lot more than 2 times as large as it was when it released, and I think we’ll see at least that same trajectory with Sol.”

Creating light-weight get the job done of exploration challenges

Investigate Computing’s organizing theory is to accelerate research and cut down time to discovery. Sol will permit them to step on the gas.

“I’ve seen the GPU on your own just engage in these kinds of a transformative function in people’s study,” Speyer claimed. “When you go from months to minutes to operate a plan, it definitely alterations the way you search at your study.”

Investigation Computing supports an array of disciplines. People selection from physicists and engineers modeling novel resources to cosmologists characterizing soils on Mars, and from biologists examining the genomics of large-altitude monkeys to sociologists examining political discourse on Twitter.

“We have quite a few bright, dazzling shining stars at ASU,” Speyer reported. “We have these spectacular faculty, and I am generally just blown away by the factors that they do — and I get goosebumps considering about the processing electric power that will soon be readily available to them by means of Sol.”

Antia Sanchez Botana, an assistant professor in the Office of Physics, options to place that processing electricity to superior use. She is a theoretical physicist who investigates the houses and behaviors of novel supplies — perform she says would not be doable without supercomputers.

Last fall, Sanchez Botana and a workforce of ASU researchers discovered a new superconducting content, publishing their supercomputer-enabled conclusions in the journal Mother nature Components. Their operate paved the way for the discovery of an unique material by a team from MIT shortly soon after.

“Both content were being feasible many thanks to the methods of Investigate Computing,” she claimed. “It has been the most valuable resource to acquire my study at ASU setting up Working day 1, essentially. The relieve of use and the resources provided by the personnel have been fantastic to kick-commence my research at ASU.”

Bringing more into Sol’s orbit

Considering that its launch, Agave has steadily amplified its user foundation. As component of ASU Core Exploration Services, Analysis Computing sources are also available to researchers at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. Supporting not only a range of investigation initiatives but academic classes as properly, the development in consumers is because of in substantial aspect to ongoing outreach and education and learning attempts.

“One of our aims — and issues — is to elevate awareness among disciplines and domains that may not otherwise know that the source exists or how they can use it for their study,” claimed Marisa Brazil, associate director of outreach and engagement in ASU’s Study Technologies Business.

Brazil’s group can help college and pupils learn about the supercomputing assets accessible to them, providing far more than 50 programs on everything from introductory supercomputing and software language instruction to state-of-the-art computing approaches and applications.

>>Understand a lot more about Investigation Computing’s teaching and education.

“We want to reach not only typical supercomputing consumers, but nontraditional domains as nicely,” Brazil explained.

To do this, the team implemented a a lot more consumer-friendly, world-wide-web browser supercomputing interface.

“Making the supercomputer additional accessible by giving an simple-to-use web interface has truly reduced the barrier to entry and authorized us to provide in clients over and above our classic buyers,” Brazil mentioned.

Onboarding new users is a obstacle if they don’t know the source exists, on the other hand. With the start of Sol, Brazil noticed a exclusive opportunity to raise awareness of the resources available to the university and get people invested in the new addition. She launched a naming competitors, drawing in about 200 solutions for the new supercomputer.

All over 15 prime contenders had been submitted to the Analysis Computing Governing Board and then to ASU leadership, wherever Sol emerged as the winner. The identify was submitted by Tullio Geraci, a chemistry doctoral student in the School of Molecular Sciences.

“I feel really honored that the name I submitted was selected,” reported Geraci, who was seeking to encapsulate various features of Arizona, ASU and the local community with the identify “Sol.”

As a winner of the naming contest, Geraci obtained a effective Dell Precision 7760 Cell Workstation with AI laptop computer, gifted by Dell. The laptop also consists of a Nvidia Data Science Workstation application stack and is able of extreme computational function, which Geraci states will serve him nicely in his experiments.

Four people stand in front of Old Main on ASU's Tempe campus.

Chemistry doctoral pupil Tullio Geraci (second from left) gets a Dell Precision 7760 Cellular Workstation for distributing “Sol” in the supercomputer naming contest from the Research Computing crew (from still left) Douglas Jennewein, Marisa Brazil and Gil Speyer, in front of Old Major. Picture by Andy DeLisle/ASU

“My outdated notebook is heading on six several years previous now, so it was time for an improve,” Geraci claimed. “Winning the notebook was excellent timing, and it’ll get the job done terrific for the relaxation of my instruction and hopefully over and above.”

Brazil says she was pleased with the alternative of “Sol,” the Spanish phrase for “sun.”

“As a Hispanic girl operating in technological innovation, I dedicate a ton of time and electricity into making certain that we are various, equitable and inclusive in all factors of our operate,” she stated. “The title Sol not only displays the variety of our community at ASU and Arizona, but is also hugely symbolic: energy, gentle, heat — all issues that we need to prosper.”

Pete Zrioka

Assistant director of content tactic , Knowledge Company

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