AMD-Powered Frontier Remains Fastest Supercomputer in the World, Intel-Powered Aurora Takes Second With Half-Scale Result

The Top500 organization released its semi-annual list of the fastest supercomputers in the world, with the AMD-powered Frontier supercomputer retaining its spot at the top of the list with 1.194 Exaflop/s (EFlop/s) of performance, fending off a half-scale 585.34 Petaflop/s (PFlop/s) submission from the Argonne National Laboratory’s Intel-powered Aurora supercomputer.

Argonne’s submission, which only employs half of the Aurora system, lands at the second spot on the Top500, unseating Japan’s Fugaku as the second-fastest supercomputer in the world. Intel also made inroads with 20 new supercomputers based on its Sapphire Rapids CPUs entering the list, but AMD’s EPYC continues to take over the Top500 as it now powers 140 systems on the list — a 39% year-over-year increase.

Intel and Argonne are currently still working to bring Arora fully online for users in 2024. As such, the Aurora submission represented 10,624 Intel CPUs and 31,874 Intel GPUs working in concert to deliver 585.34 PFlop/s at a total of 24.69 megawatts (MW) of energy. In contrast, AMD’s Frontier holds the performance title at 1.194 EFlop/s, which is more than twice the performance of Aurora, while consuming a comparably miserly 22.70 MW of energy (yes, that’s less power for the full Frontier supercomputer than half of the Aurora system). Aurora did not land on the Green500, a list of the most power-efficient supercomputers, with this submission, but Frontier continues to hold eighth place on that list. 

However, Aurora is expected to eventually reach up to 2 EFlop/s of performance when it comes fully online. When complete, Auroroa will have 21,248 Xeon Max CPUs and 63,744 Max Series ‘Ponte Vecchio’ GPUs spread across 166 racks and 10,624 compute blades, making it the largest known single deployment of GPUs in the world. The system leverages HPE Cray EX – Intel Exascale Compute Blades and uses HPE’s Slingshot-11 networking interconnect.

El Capitan

(Image credit: DOE)

AMD is in the process of deploying El Capitan, which is projected to be faster than Aurora with 2 EFlop/s+ of performance, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As such, Intel’s incessantly delayed Aurora may never take the number one position on the Top500 list — the race is certainly on for the next round of Top500 submissions in June 2024.

The Aurora supercomputer was first announced in 2015, with a predicted finish date in 2018. Back then, the system was designed to use the Knights Hill processors that were later canceled. The system has seen numerous redesigns and reschedules in the years since, with the new Aurora being announced in 2019 with one exaflop of performance to be delivered in 2021. Yet another rescheduling in late 2021 claimed the system would deliver two exaflops upon completion, which is now slated for next year as Intel, Argonne, and HPE continue to work on system validation, verification, and scaling-up workloads across the new system. You can see Argonne’s other Aurora benchmarks that it shared today here.  

Meanwhile, Microsoft‘s new Eagle supercomputer, deployed in the Azure Cloud, has now taken the number three spot on the list, pushing Japan’s Fugaku into fourth place on the leaderboard. Eagle is the first cloud system to break the top ten. The LUMI system in Kajaani, Finland, rounded out the top five with 379.70 PFlop/s of performance.

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