Home System list Argonne deploys Polaris supercomputer for science in advance of Aurora

Argonne deploys Polaris supercomputer for science in advance of Aurora


Argonne National Laboratory has made its newest supercomputer, Polaris, available for scientific research. The system, which ranked 14th on the most recent Top500 list, serves as a testbed for the exascale Aurora system, which is scheduled for delivery in the coming months.

The Polaris system built by HPE (shown in header) consists of 560 nodes, each equipped with an AMD Epyc “Milan” processor, quad Nvidia A100 GPUs (40 GB variant) and 512 GB of DDR4 memory. These nodes are networked with HPE Slingshot-11 and are connected to Argonne, Grand and Eagle dual 100PB Luster file systems. The system provides 25.81 petaflops Linpack (out of 44 petaflops theoretical), compared to 6.2 petaflops Linpack provided by Argonne’s second major system, Theta.

“Polaris is about four times faster than our Theta supercomputer, making it Argonne’s most powerful computer to date,” said Michael Papka, director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). “The system brings advanced functionality that will enable our user community to perform simulation, data analysis and AI tasks at a scale and speed not possible with our previous systems. “

Now that the system is launched, it is running. “We have a very diverse set of projects lined up to use Polaris,” said ALCF Scientific Director Katherine Riley. “Some of the initial ECPs [Exascale Computing Project] and ESP [Aurora Early Science Program] research campaigns include using AI to accelerate cancer research, performing massive cosmological simulations to advance our understanding of the universe, and modeling turbulent flows to inform the design of more efficient aircraft .

A render of the Aurora supercomputer. Image courtesy of Argonne.

The ECP and ESP work, of course, speaks to the system’s role as a herald of Aurora, the HPE-built, Intel-powered exascale system that was once supposed to be America’s first exascale system before it was hit by hardware delays that pushed it past the exascale Frontier supercomputer now launched at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Installation on Aurora began earlier this spring and it appears to be on track for delivery in late 2022 to early 2023.

Beyond Aurora, Polaris will address internal Argonne needs, such as use cases serving high-powered tools like the Advanced Photon Source (APS) X-ray facility. “Experimental facilities need powerful computing resources to keep pace with the ever-increasing amounts of scientific data they produce,” Papka said. “By tightly integrating ALCF supercomputers with APS, CNM, and other experimental facilities, we can help accelerate data analysis and provide insights that allow researchers to drive their experiments in real time.”

Polaris and Aurora share many similarities at the system and user level, according to Argonne.

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