IBM Power8 System S824L

IBM Power8 System S824L

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The Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) is proud to be a growing, independent and not-for-profit organisation that specialises in high value design capability. We promote advanced modelling and simulation, underpinned by HPC, pushing the boundaries of technology.

Through our exceptional, collaborative, virtual and physical facility,  we enable the adoption and acceleration of new technologies for advanced modelling and simulation, while improving learning and developing awareness of state-of-the art. Engaging with organisations large and small, we help to provide access to the right tools, resources, skills and technologies, resulting in increased productivity and faster, more informed decision-making.

About IBM

IBM is a globally integrated enterprise operating in over 170 countries. IBM UK has around 20,000 employees, bringing innovative solutions to a diverse client base to help solve some of their toughest business challenges. In addition to being the world's largest IT and consulting services company, IBM is a global business and technology leader, innovating in research and development to shape the future of society at large. IBM's prized research, development and technical talent around the world partner with governments, corporations, thinkers and doers on ground breaking real world problems to help make the world work better and build a smarter planet.

IBM Power8 System S824L

The IBM POWER8 System is the first generation of chip architecture developed for the OpenPower Foundation, and together with the Nvidia® Tesla® GPU, forms the basis of the next generation DOE HPC infrastructure. This is also the first Power Processor from IBM being offered with support for Little Endian byte ordering used by x86 processors from Intel and AMD which reduces codes changes required to migrate existing x86 code.

Requirement

CFMS undertook an independent product technology evaluation of IBM Power8 System S824L, assessed for readiness and utilisation in technical computing and HPC workload.

Product evaluation covered a number of industry standard tests including system performance for technical computing and engineering workloads, quality of the toolchain (compilers, environment, etc.) and integrated energy efficiency and scale. The testing programme also reviewed total cost of ownership (TCO) and management, business benefits and industry relevance.

Solution

Providing insight from an actual user perspective, services consist of benchmarking a product against manufacturer performance through to product validation where CFMS input into product design and development, to confirm the proposed approach. CFMS team of IT systems and industry specialists in modelling and simulation set-up testing environments and run cases for vendors and industry end users.

“Running a number of industry level test and experiments, we undertook an independent product evaluation of IBM Power8 System S824L, which provided factual outcomes that demonstrate product capability in the growing technical computing and HPC arena”, Nathan Harper, IT Systems Lead, CFMS.

Technical Results

Flexibility

SMT8 can be reconfigured while the system is running,  allowing for the SMT configuration to be optimised for each simulation run, or even at each simulation job step. POWER8 provides greater Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) control, allowing the optimisation of the process layout on the hardware topology.

Simplicity

Observed is an ongoing trend within the HPC landscape for heterogeneous clusters, rather than attempting a ‘best-fit’ homogenous configuration. These heterogeneous clusters may combine standard CPU only compute nodes with either ‘high-memory’ nodes, or with compute nodes equipped with GPGPU or other accelerators. Tools like xCAT (eXtreme Cloud Administration Toolkit) and IBM Spectrum Scale (formerly IBM GPFS) can be used to deploy and run mixed x86 and Power systems (equipped with NVIDIA GPGPUs) to accelerate specific workloads, while providing a consistent experience for end users. Porting existing CUDA software to run on the S824L’s K40 GPUs was trivial, primarily due to the common interfaces provided by the CUDA toolkits on x86 and POWER8.

Performance

System performance assessment focused on compute rather that I/O, as typical HPC workloads would exercise processors with storage being implemented as a shared parallel file system. The performance was measured by running zCFD on a standard aerospace test case from NASA. The latest CUDA 7.0rc Toolkit from NVIDIA was utilised, together with the gcc 4.9 providing OpenMP thread based parallelism and OpenMPI 6.5 providing MPMD parallelism.  



To view the full results of the IBM Power8 System S842L Benchmarking and Testing, click here

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