US gets Polaris supercomputer with Nvidia A100 GPUs and AMD EPYC processors

The Argonne National Laboratory at the US Department of Energy is getting a new supercomputer called Polaris, with A100 GPUs from Nvidia and EPYC processors from AMD. Polaris will prepare software for Intel’s delayed Aurora supercomputer.

According to the ANL and Nvidia, Polaris consists of 560 nodes, each of which has an AMD EPYC processor and four Nvidia A100 GPUs. Polaris’ total number of GPUs is therefore 2240. This makes it the largest GPU supercomputer within the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. The supercomputer will be delivered and installed this year and should be operational by early 2022.

The Argonne National Laboratory does not mention specific AMD EPYC models, but HPC Wire writes that they are initially second-generation EPYC Rome 7532 CPUs with 32 Zen 2 cores. In March 2022, the system is set to transition to third-generation EPYC Milan 7343 processors. They also have 32 cores but are based on AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture. This gives Polaris a total of 17,920 CPU cores.

According to the Argonne National Laboratory, Polaris achieves theoretical computing power of up to 1.4 exaflops in AI computing tasks. The double-precision fp64 performance would be 44 petaflops. The supercomputer should enable scientists and developers, among other things, to test software for the upcoming Aurora exascale supercomputer from the Argonne National Laboratory. The ANL talks about testing software code and applications for ‘a series of projects in the field of AI, engineering and science’, which are intended for the Aurora supercomputer with Intel CPUs and GPUs.

Aurora was initially supposed to be delivered this year, but this has been postponed due to delays at Intel. This delay may have led to the deal for this Polaris supercomputer. Reuters sources reported this week that Nvidia and AMD would be in talks with the Argonne National Laboratory to build a new supercomputer. Plans for Polaris are said to have been set up while the lab waits for the Intel supercomputer, according to that news agency. It is not known what amount the ANL pays for Polaris.

A render of the Polaris supercomputer. Image via Argonne National Laboratory