Green HPC & More Exascalar Trends

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog about the Exascalar analysis for the June 2012 Green500 data. The Exascalar Analysis is a way of looking at the performance leadership of supercomputers that emphasizes the fundamental role of efficiency. Exascalar is a convenient measure of the "logarithmic distance” of a super computer from the Exascale goal of 1018 flops in an envelope of 20 mega watts.

In my last blog I showed how the BlueGene/Q computer family – which previously demonstrated efficiency leadership – this time around achieved the performance scale to push it to the top of the Top500, Green500, and Exascalar ranking.

We can visualize this evolution by looking at the Exascalar Analysis for the data form June 2011 to June 2012 on one graph.

2011 and 2012 Graph V2.png

The red triangles represent the data points of the June 2011 list and are plotted on top of the June 2012 data to better emphasize which systems are new or have changed.

The column of points on the right-hand side of the graph are the BlueGene/Q systems, all with comparable efficiency around 2000 Mflops/Watt. The highest performing system consumes nearly 8MWatt of power.

The impact of these systems on the Exascalar list is further emphasized by the movement of the “top10” boundary. Only three of the “Top10” from a year ago still make the list, showing the fast evolution of the list. And it was efficiency, not just raw performance, that drove this turn-over.

The next cluster of systems at around 1000 Mflops/Watt were also not present in the chart. These are dominated by the Intel Xeon E5 family coupled with GPU.

An interesting point is the Intel Xeon E5 coupled with MIC, which has an efficiency of 1300 Mflops/Watt. This system has a power consumption of just under 80kW for a performance of 108 Mflops. It’s interesting to compare this to the lowest efficiency system on the June2012 Graph. Also with a system performance near 108 Mflops it has a power consumption of over 3.5 MWatts! The efficiency advantage of Xeon is truly amazing.

Building on the above, it's instructive to visualize the trend of Exascalar plotted against time.

Trend Graph June 2012.png

In this graph I have shown both the Top and Median trends. As expected the median shows a much smoother progression than does the Top Exascalar trend due to the larger sample size.

A fit of the trends shows that Exascalar is decreasing a factor 0.35 per year, while the median is on a much slower cadence of 0.26 per year. The extrapolation of the Top Exascalar curve shows progress is reasonably on track toward the Exascalar goal.

The Green500 and Top500 data are extremely rich in information, but it’s hard to visualize trends in one without understanding what is going on in the other. Hence the Exascalar analysis was born. There are many trends in the data some of which I discussed here. For instance I think we should expect much more form Xeon and MIC systems in the future. And of course, it will be interesting to see the next generation of efficiency and performance leaders emerge in subsequent editions.

Here’s a question to all my loyal readers - answer if you dare.

What do you think the SHAPE OUTLINE of the Exascalar plot will be in 2013 and 2015?

Submit a link to a picture in the comments! I'll share my thoughts in a couple weeks.