Frontier is the new king of supercomputers in the June 2022 Top 500

Some cabinets of the Frontier supercomputer (Photo courtesy Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Some cabinets of the Frontier supercomputer (Photo courtesy Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

The American Frontier supercomputer has been crowned the new king of the Top 500 ranking. It has a speed that is more than twice that of the Japanese Fugaku, the previous king. This is the first exascale supercomputer, which means that it’s capable of exceeding the calculation capacity of 1 exaflop with 10^18 floating-point operations per second. Frontier reaches 1.102 exaflops per second.

Based on the HPE Cray Ex235a architecture, the Frontier supercomputer was assembled at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and is not the first supercomputer king of this American national laboratory. That’s because it’s the largest science center in the US Department of Energy and these supercomputers are used for extremely sophisticated simulations connected to scientific research of various disciplines.

HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) is the manufacturer that partnered with ORNL to design and assemble the Frontier supercomputer. The hardware is divided into 74 Cray EX cabinets for a total of 9,408 nodes. Each node is equipped with a 2 GHz AMD EPYC 64C processor with 512 GB of RAM and 4 AMD Instinct MI250X accelerators. In short, it’s a system based entirely on AMD processors. In general, there was a growth in systems based on AMD architectures in the Top 500 ranking that confirmed a trend of the last two years.

The mass memory of the Frontier supercomputer is mixed in the sense that it’s composed of 480 NVMe SSDs for a total of 10 PB (PetaByte), 5,400 NVMe SSDs for a total of 11.5 PB, and 47,700 hard drives for a total of 679 PB. The total is around 700 PB.

The operating system of the Frontier supercomputer is HPE Cray OS, a version of Linux based on SUSEĀ® Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) optimized for High-Performance Computing. For some years now, all the supercomputers in the Top 500 ranking have been using Linux as their operating system.

In addition to the lead in the Top 500 ranking, the Frontier supercomputer also obtained that on the Green500 list, which evaluates the energy efficiency of these systems. Frontier has an overall claimed absorption of 21,100 GWatts and an efficiency of 52.23 gigaflops/watt.

The use phase of the Frontier supercomputer in scientific research is expected to begin by 2022 after the end of the test phase. With its computing power of 1.102 exaflops per second, it will be very useful, even more so if the theoretical peak of 1.685 exaflops per second is confirmed.

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