IBM Systems

IBM Power Systems Continue to Deliver Innovation Even Beyond the World’s Fastest Supercomputers for Our Clients

By Ken King, General Manager of OpenPOWER, IBM Systems

The IBM-developed U.S. Dept of Energy Summit and Sierra supercomputers continue to top the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. At the Supercomputing Conference 2019 in Denver, CO, the TOP500 organization revealed the 54th edition of the TOP500 ranking of supercomputers, with the IBM POWER9-equipped U.S. Department of Energy supercomputers Summit and Sierra ranked first and second, respectively.

But while we’ve been pleased by Summit and Sierra’s ranks ever since they debuted on the 51st edition of the list, in today’s world where “fast” is simply a question of scale, our clients from the biggest government labs to business enterprises to startups are benefitting from a range of POWER innovations and new capabilities as they move into what IBM calls 'Chapter 2', where businesses digitally transform their operations by moving their enterprise solutions to the cloud while adopting AI backed by advanced security capabilities.

New scientific discoveries reported by  Oak Ridge National Labs demonstrate how Summit can help scientists solve complex problems like how to design more disaster-resistant cities, how to use genetic markers to improve our understanding of disease, and how humans can land successfully on Mars. Summit was the first system known to run both traditional and deep learning applications that passed the exaflop barrier, showing how application performance can be pushed beyond benchmarks of simply speed.

IBM technology is also behind the most powerful newcomer on this year’s list: Rensselear Polytechnic Institute’s AiMOS supercomputer. A joint effort between IBM, RPI, and New York State, AiMOS placed at #24 on the TOP500 list. In a testament to the versatility of IBM Power Systems, AiMOS also placed in the top 3 in energy efficiency, as measured by the corresponding Green500 ranking of energy efficient supercomputers.  

“The partnership with IBM and NYS has been very rewarding to create and implement AiMOS,” said John E. Kolb, who is the Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Rensselaer.  “While the processing and data movement numbers are impressive, we expect that AiMOS will enable our respective teams to forward the frontier of next generation Artificial Intelligence hardware and software systems. This will be exciting for us and the world.”

Just as important as the above societal impacts, some of the world’s largest business enterprises, like supermajor oil producer Total Inc, are tapping these IBM Power Systems capabilities with the objective of becoming a smarter business. Using the IBM-built Pangea III supercomputer, which is #11 on the TopOP500 list, Total is analyzing massive amounts of data with the goal of making informed oil exploration decisions while exploring new resource opportunities.

At The Weather Company, an IBM business, IBM Power Systems are helping to deliver more accurate weather forecasts to consumers and industries around the world, helping everyone from farmers to airlines to plan and prepare for success.  With availability announced on November 14th, the IBM Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting (GRAF) system uses GPU-accelerated IBM Power Systems servers to provide more granular predictions of the atmosphere and update its forecasts 6 to 12 times more frequently than current conventional global modeling systems. 

IBM Power Systems are helping students with learning disabilities engage with classic literature, and next year will help an autonomous research ship navigate the Atlantic with AI and the Cloud. All of these use cases illustrate that IBM’s data-centric principles help our customers do what they want to do with their data, and do it smarter. With built in security and intelligent software for accelerating simulation workflows, IBM has developed a Bayesian Optimization solution which applies state of the art AI optimization algorithms to HPC workloads. Running on IBM Power Systems, this reduces the number of simulations necessary to derive insight, because the fastest simulation is the one you don’t have to run.

When IBM began building the IBM POWER9 system that became the primary technology behind Summit and Sierra, we operated under the premise that this leading innovation would drive success in not just the largest labs, but also for business enterprises and even startups, with leadership capability for AI, Security, Cloud and, of course, Supercomputing.  While we are very proud of IBM’s success on the Top500 list, the success of our clients is our biggest pride, and we look forward to remaining critical partners in their journey of discovery and innovation.

About Ken King:

Ken King is General Manager, OpenPOWER, for IBM Systems. Ken is responsible for building the ecosystem of partners on top of the POWER architecture. This includes chip, system, software and go-to-market channel development; along with governments worldwide. Ken was Chairman of IBM’s Open Source Steering Committee for two years and currently serves as a Board Member for the Open Invention Network (OIN) company.