Catalyst UK programme brings Arm-based HPC system to EPCC!

Author: Michele Weiland
Posted: 8 Jan 2019 | 15:08

Earlier this year, HPE announced the Catalyst UK programme: a collaboration with Arm, SUSE and three UK universities to deploy one of the largest Arm-based high performance computing (HPC) installations in the world. EPCC was chosen as the site for one of these systems; the other two are the Universities of Bristol and Leicester.

EPCC's system (called 'Fulhame' after pioneering chemist Elizabeth Fulhame) was delivered and installed in early December. This HPE Apollo 70-based system consists of 64 compute nodes with two 32-core Cavium ThunderX2 processors (ie 4096 cores in total), 128GB of memory composed of 16 DDR4 DIMMs, and Mellanox InfiniBand interconnects. It will be made available to both industry and academia, with the aim to build applications that drive economic growth and productivity as outlined in the UK government’s Industrial Strategy.

As part of the programme, EPCC will port the most heavily used ARCHER and Cirrus packages to the Catalyst system and make them available as modules, so that it’s easy for users to explore the new platform.

Our initial focus will be on making as many applications available as possible. As documentation is a key component of driving adoption, we will create detailed build process documentation as part of our porting activities and contribute to the Arm HPC community on GitLab.

It is expected that the initial porting exercise will unearth issues (eg with compilers, libraries, or the network) and we will work closely with the vendors to resolve these. A handful of applications will be selected for in-depth optimisation - areas of particular interest are engineering, computational chemistry, and weather and ocean modelling, and these will be given priority. However it’s not an exclusive club: industry, high-performance data analytics and machine learning applications are also welcome.

Catalyst training

In December, we ran a free PRACE Advanced Training Centre workshop that taught participants about the Catalyst system architecture and software stack, how to compile codes for Arm, as well as performance hints and tips. The course programme is available on the ARCHER website.

We are eagerly looking forward to exploring the potential of this Arm-based HPC system!

Image: Areas of particular interest to the initial phase of the Catalyst programme include weather and ocean modelling. © iStock.com/shayes17

Author

Michèle Weiland, EPCC