Today (Sept. 8, 2016) IBM POWER Systems unveiled a new family of servers that IBM claims will transform the economics of the Data Center: purpose-built for AI and machine learning and that can deliver a 2X Price-Performance Advantage over x86-Based Servers. Designed in collaboration with the OpenPOWER Foundation (including some of the biggest and innovative tech companies in the world), IBM claims this hardware is setting new performance benchmarks for the industry. Some IBM provided benchmark results are provided below. Systems will be available starting September 26.
The New POWER Systems
The following graphic shows the technical details of the three new systems. The S822LC for HPC system incorporates the new POWER8 with NVLink on the Processor. The other two systems utilize the PCIe bus for GPU communications.
The first NVLink-enabled CPUs
The S822LC for HPC finally gives users the ability to see NVLink, Pascal GPUs, and POWER8 processors working together – without the limitations of the PCIe bus – to make offload mode programming an optimization rather than a requirement.
Arthur S. (Buddy) Bland, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility project director at ORNL notes, “As a long-time user of GPUs, we believe that this will improve the performance of our applications and make it easier for the users to deliver great science.
As we have seen, NVIDIA’s Pascal NVLink GPUs are now in the wild.
TechEnablement spoke with Ian Buck (VP Accelerated Computing, NVIDIA) today (Sept. 8. 2016) about the availability of the NVLink-enabled NVIDIA P100 Pascal GPUs. He states NVIDIA is in full production, which means there should not be a problem with customers getting Pascal GPUs for the S822LC for HPC systems. We note that all the new servers are CAPI enabled, which means that other accelerators can be used with this new IBM server family.
Try your own benchmarks!
To help developers best take advantage of new hardware and see the potential for performance gains for themselves, IBM established the Accelerated Discovery Lab. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to get access.
We are happy to note that IBM Fellow Brad McCredie (Vice President and IBM Fellow) is apparently making good on his promise for 3rd parties to get access to an OpenPower system with NVlink during the 3rd quarter of this year. Read more about what McCredie said in, Power 9 info plus IBM to make NVlink demo system available.
It is likely that access to these systems will be popular given the significant interest in GPU vs. CPU benchmarks! Here is one example, NVIDIA – “[Intel] Should Get Their Facts Straight” on Machine Learning Benchmarks. Of course, POWER8 is now thrown into the mix as well as x86 and GPUs. Let us know your benchmark results when they come in!
Cloud and Database Price/Performance
IBM shared their benchmark and Price/Performance data with TechEnablement. Customers who want a water-cooled option for the CPUs, GPUs, and memory can pay IBM an extra $1,500 for water blocks and piping. Water cooling will offer about a 15% performance boost over air cooling as the Power8 chips can run in Turbo mode and the Teslas to run in GPUBoost mode in a sustained fashion. To our knowledge, the following benchmarks were performed on an air-cooled system. Alas, no GPU-based, NVLink benchmarks were provided.