Each year, towards the end of the supercomputing show, many of us ponder on the major takeaways from the event. Reflecting on SC12 one of the most exciting highlights was the rollout of the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor, the first product in Xeon Phi family based on Intel’s Many Integrated Core(MIC) architecture. At SC12, IBM demonstrated an integrated solution based on Xeon Phi coprocessor, Platform HPC management software and IBM System x. To showcase the tremendous processing power from Intel’s new processor architecture, IBM team demonstrated how certain application could benefit from the Xeon Phi coprocessor by using Intel Embree, a massively parallel ray tracing application. The application was run on both Xeon Phi coprocessor and Xeon processor, using IBM iDataPlex servers.
With Platform HPC software we were able to demonstrate the consistent performance advantage Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor had over Xeon processor. We observed as much as a 5x performance increase running the application on Xeon Phi coprocessor compared to “Sandy Bridge” processor.
The integrated solution based on Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor, IBM Platform HPC and IBM System x is designed for HPC users to easily accelerate their parallel applications. While managing various types of workloads in a clustered environment, Platform HPC automatically allocates the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors to workloads that are suited for running on those resources. As a result it frees up CPU resources so they are available to other types of workloads. This intelligent scheduling mechanism enables better matching between available resources and different types of workloads running on a cluster, resulting faster overall application throughout, high resource utilization and reduced total cost of infrastructure investment.
In addition to the scheduling support for Intel Xeon Phi, IBM Platform HPC also offers comprehensive monitoring and reporting capabilities for the coprocessor. Metrics such as processor utilization, memory usage, temperature, and power consumption, etc .can be tracked and viewed in real time. Custom alerts can be set to detect abnormal conditions of the Xeon Phi coprocessor. Statistical reports based on historical data can also be created for further analysis.
On the hardware front, Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor is supported by IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 M4. The first server from IBM to support Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, the dx360 M4 is a dual-socket, half-depth server that is built on the latest Intel Xeon processors, which offer high performance, flexibility and energy efficiency. The flexible design supports up to 2 Xeon Phi coprocessors to meet the requirement of highly parallel workloads.
We expect the combined solution of Platform HPC, System x and the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor will deliver compelling benefits to both IT administrators and users to achieve faster time-to-results, improved user and administrator productivity and optimal infrastructure utilization.
The support for Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor is another latest establishment in the long history of partnership between IBM Platform Computing and Intel. At SC12, IBM Platform Computing was recognized as the winner of the Pathfinder Award by Intel Cluster Ready program for our continued effort of leading the development of Intel Cluster Ready Reference Designs for the E5 family of products.
To learn more about the technology integration of Platform HPC, IBM System x and Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor, please download white paper.