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Perlmutter Debuts in the Top 5 of the Top500

June 29, 2021

By Kathy Kincade

Permutter condensed final

Just weeks after its official unveiling, the Perlmutter supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) has earned the number 5 position in the Top500 List with a performance benchmark of 64.6 Pflop/s and is among the top 10 in two other Top500 benchmarks. The announcement was made Monday, June 28 during the ISC21 conference.

Started in 1993, the Top500 project aims to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high performance computing and bases rankings on HPL, a portable implementation of the high-performance LINPACK benchmark. The organization currently oversees three separate benchmarking competitions twice each year: the Top500 List; the High-Performance Conjugate Gradient (HPCG), a challenging alternative metric for assessing supercomputer performance; and the Green500, which measures energy efficiency.

In addition to the Top500 64.6 Pflop/s achievement in this latest round, Perlmutter recorded 1.91 HPCG-petaflops in the HPCG benchmark, earning it the #3 spot on that list; and a power efficiency of 25.55 gigaflops/watt in the Green500, which earned it the #6 spot on that list. It is also notable that these measurements were run using containers and NERSC's Shifter container runtime. Containers enabled various combinations of libraries and builds to be rapidly tested.

“We are pleased to see that Perlmutter is the one system in the top 5 of the Top500 list that is also in the top 10 of the Green500,” said Jay Srinivasan, the NERSC-9 (Perlmutter) project director at NERSC. “The confluence of high performance and power efficiency is a notable achievement.”

While Perlmutter was optimized for NERSC’s broad DOE Office of Science workload and not HPL, “we are very happy with the results, and HPL proved to be a useful stress test for the system,” said NERSC Director Sudip Dosanjh. “The system has also excelled at AI and energy efficiency benchmarks.”

Perlmutter is an HPE Cray EX system being delivered to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in two phases. Phase 1 features 1,536 GPU-accelerated nodes, each containing four NVIDIA NVlink-connected A100 Tensor Core GPUs and one 3rd Gen AMD EPYC™ processor. Phase 1 also includes a 35 PB all-flash Lustre file system that will provide very high-bandwidth storage. Phase 2, set to arrive later this year, will add 3,072 CPU-only nodes, each with two 3rd Gen AMD EPYC™ processors and 512 GB of memory per node.

This architecture will provide four times the computational power currently available at NERSC and is designed to enhance scientific simulation, data analysis, and artificial intelligence productivity across a multitude of scientific disciplines.

“I'm very happy to hear that Perlmutter has officially been recognized as one of the top supercomputers in the world on two top measures: performance and efficiency,” said Jonathan Carter, Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab.

NERSC is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility.

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.