With the MareNostrum 5, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center is getting one of the fastest European supercomputers from the pre-exascale performance class. It should be able to achieve around 314 petaflops at its peak, i.e. carry out 314 quadrillion calculations per second with double precision (FP64). The main system contains Intel’s Xeon processors from the overdue Sapphire Rapids generation combined with Nvidia’s H100 GPU accelerator cards.
However, there are also experimental clusters with Intel’s next but one CPU generation, Emerald Rapids, and Nvidia’s ARM processor, Grace. The latter brings the first points of contact with the ARM architecture in preparation for Europe’s own ARM CPU Rhea HPC – the Swiss supercomputer Alps also gets the same Grace models. The experimental clusters make up a small percentage of the MareNostrum 5 with a few petaflops of computing power.
MareNostrum 5 is therefore announced in a completely different way than in 2019: At that time it was planned for the end of 2020 with a computing power of 200 petaflops and a cost of 223 million euros. Now the costs are reduced to 151.41 million euros with higher computing power at the same time. According to its own statement, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation is contributing 52 million euros, the rest is likely to come mostly from the EuroHPC project to expand the European supercomputer infrastructure.
Wild mix of manufacturers
The French service provider Atos is primarily responsible for setting up MareNostrum 5, but also uses services from Lenovo and ParTec. The main system consists of BullSequana XH3000 servers, each with two Sapphire Rapids processors and four H100 GPUs. Lenovo contributes ThinkSystem SD650 V3 Neptune CPU-only nodes, which only contain Sapphire Rapids CPUs for general tasks.
The storage system comes from IBM: we are talking about 200 PB of high-performance data storage and 400 PB of archive storage – possibly in the form of tapes. The InfiniBand interconnect Quantum 2 from the Nvidia subsidiary Mellanox handles system communication at 400 Gbit/s.
Hot water cooling, which is now standard for supercomputers, keeps the hardware at the right temperature. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center would like to recycle the waste heat, for example as district heating for heating systems. The MareNostrum 5 should also run exclusively on green electricity.
Research without an appointment
The supercomputer has almost the same tasks as the German exaflops system Jupiter. Atos writes in its communication: “MareNostrum5 [ist] designed to support medical research in Europe in drug research, vaccine development, virus spread simulation, AI applications and big data processing. The system will also provide computing power for HPC-specific, complex applications such as climate research, engineering, materials and geosciences that need to be managed outside of the cloud.”
Meanwhile, two important pieces of information are missing from the notifications of all parties involved: how much electricity MareNostrum 5 needs and when the system will be connected to the grid. Completion is likely to depend largely on the delivery times of Intel and Nvidia. The Xeon processor generation Sapphire Rapids suffers from significant delays, which has already led to multiple delays in the US supercomputer Aurora.
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