Back to School with Mellanox HPC

Our Interconnected Planet, Uncategorized

You see it everywhere this time of year. Parents with a lighter spring to their step, smiles breaking out spontaneously as they happily shell out funds for reams of paper, pens, and a multitude of other school supplies. Conversely, you see the guarded dread behind children’s gazes. Yes, it is that glorious time of year for parents and misery for children, it is back to school.

If only those children appreciated how this experience of school can lead to a wonderful future career – the joy of accomplishment that attending a top research university can bring. I remember how I felt that very first day I stepped onto Harvard’s campus as a first year graduate student.  I remember just as clearly the first time I built my very first supercomputer. I’ve worked with InfiniBand since 2003, and I have witnessed firsthand, the amazing, ground-breaking research being done at Universities using Mellanox high performance computing solutions. After completing my degree, I stayed at Harvard for more than two decades building an HPC career, helping create the FAS Research Computing Group and create the Odyssey supercomputer that now services researchers across the entire University.

When it comes to research in the academic community, Mellanox’s InfiniBand can go big, really big. From fundamental high energy physics probing the subatomic structure of matter to mapping the 13 billion year evolution of the entire universe, there are an unlimited number of problems that could not be tackled without HPC. Imagine trying to map the 3.2 billion base pairs of a human genome or model the 86 billion neurons in the human brain, each with up to 10,000 connections, without a supercomputer. The reality is that nearly all scientific research, supercomputing, and InfiniBand go hand-in-hand. Computational modelling is now an integral component of almost all areas of chemistry, physics and materials sciences. As one customer put it so eloquently, “Without high-performance computing, the time to discovery is just too long to accomplish anything.”

At Mellanox, we’ve had a long and successful history working with top academic institutions and universities like Kyushu University where their new supercomputer is being accelerated by Mellanox EDR InfiniBand solutions. Our InfiniBand technology is providing the university with smart accelerations, enabling in-network-computing that ensures faster data processing, higher performance, and greater efficiency for the wide variety of applications workloads that University systems typically need to support. The system is planned to be fully operational by January 2018 and to deliver over 10 Petaflops of peak computing power. The Mellanox EDR InfiniBand solutions enable in-network computing through smart offload engines, including SHARP, Scalable Hierarchical Aggregation and Reduction ProtocolTM technology. This technology enables the interconnect fabric to analyze data as it being transferred within the network, so that a large portion of the computational burden is offloaded from the communication layers into the network hardware. This results in more than an order of magnitude applications performance improvement in many cases.

This University hosts one of the leading supercomputing centers for academic research in Japan, providing high-performance computing resources to study fluid dynamic analysis, molecular science and other scientific disciplines. The new supercomputer will address the growing computational needs of the faculty, serving to support both computationally intensive research and able to support data-science applications as well.

According to Associate Professor Takeshi Nanri: “For the past five years, RIIT has been using Mellanox InfiniBand solutions for our high-performance computing systems. Because of the superior performance and stability, we have great confidence in Mellanox’s InfiniBand solution to power our upcoming supercomputing platform. The 100G InfiniBand EDR solution assists us to migrate to the in-network-computing architecture, which enables faster data analysis and the highest system efficiency of our applications.”

The University of Waterloo is also using Mellanox InfiniBand solutions to enable leading-edge research in a variety of academic disciplines mathematics, astronomy, science, the environment and more. The University of Waterloo is a member of SHARCNET (, a consortium of 18 universities and colleges operating a network of high-performance compute clusters in south western, central and northern Ontario, Canada. The University of Waterloo system is using Mellanox’s EDR 100Gb/s solutions with smart offloading capabilities to maximize system utilization and efficiency. The system also leverages Mellanox’s InfiniBand to Ethernet gateways to provide seamless access to an existing Ethernet-based storage platform.

A third example is the University of Tokyo, now using Mellanox EDR InfiniBand to accelerate its newest supercomputer. They are using Mellanox Switch-IB 2 EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand Switch systems and ConnectX®-4 adapters to accelerate its new supercomputer for computational science, engineering by large-scale simulations, and data analysis. Mellanox technology will be used as part of their new system, key to advancing ongoing research and expanding the exciting work being carried out that is leveraging computational science and engineering, computer science, data analysis, and machine learning.

The Information Technology Center at the University of Tokyo is one of Japan’s premiere research and educational institutions, armed with the mission of building, and operating large computer systems. It serves as the core institute of the Joint Usage/Research Center for Interdisciplinary Large-scale Information Infrastructures (JHPCN); a group of supercomputer centers that spans eight leading universities. The new supercomputer will also serve as a test environment for a future supercomputer system that will be tasked with advancing research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other multifaceted emerging fields of study.

Mellanox InfiniBand adapters provide the highest performing interconnect solution for High-Performance Computing, Enterprise Data Centers, Web 2.0, Cloud Computing, and embedded environments. Mellanox’s Switch-IB 2 EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand switches, the world’s first smart switches, enable in-network computing through the principle of co-design using SHARP (Scalable Hierarchical Aggregation and Reduction Protocol) technology. Switch-IB 2 delivers the highest fabric performance available in the market with up to 7Tb/s of non-blocking bandwidth, 90ns port-to-port latency and 195 million messages per second processing capacity per port.

So, as your kids head back to school, even if they are still in elementary school, imagine the research and discoveries that await them when they reach college age.  Share this vision of scientific discovery and high performance computing and help them get excited about the ways they could contribute to our interconnected planet’s future. Maybe some of that guarded dread can be replaced with wide-eyed wonder at the future that awaits them.

And speaking of education, be sure and check out Ai to Z, a Mellanox video that spells out the ABCs of Artificial Intelligence.

Supporting Resources:

About Gerald Lotto

Jerry recently joined Mellanox in 2016 as Director HPC and Technical Computing, with more than 30 years of experience with scientific computing. An early adopter of InfiniBand, Jerry built the first HPC teaching cluster in the Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology with an InfiniBand backbone during the early InfiniBand days. In 2007, he helped to create the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Computing group. In an unprecedented collaborative effort between 5 Universities, industry and state government, Jerry also helped to design the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, MA which was completed in November 2012. In mid-2013, Jerry left Harvard University to join RAID, Inc as Chief Technology Officer working to help companies, universities and government design, build, integrate and use HPC and technical computing technologies throughout the United States.

Comments are closed.