Berkeley Lab Addresses Supercomputer Energy Measurement

June 2012

As high-performance supercomputer performance begins to approach the Exascale range, the accompanying increases in electricity required to power these computers is motivating developers to produce components that provide higher flops (floating-point operations per second) per watt. It is well agreed that improved performance will save both time and computing costs, but how is performance best measured?

The Energy Efficient High Performance Computing Working Group (EE HPC WG), chaired by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab’s) Dale Sartor and Natalie Bates, is developing new methodologies to address this challenge. The group works from the premise that, to be effective, improved measurements for large systems such as supercomputers must be developed in collaboration with all stakeholders. With that in mind, the group considers input from the Top500, Green500, and Green Grid. The working group, which is open to all, consists of about 250 people, with 50% from national laboratories; 30% from the vendor community, and the rest representing academics and other stakeholders. Sixteen countries are represented. The EE HPC WG works on issues regarding both data centers and the compute system.

Berkley Lab’s Erich Strohmaier co-leads the working group’s Computing Systems Energy Efficiency Metrics and Benchmarking sub-group, and helped develop the working group’s new measurement methodology. Five early adopters are testing it during their Linpack runs and are providing feedback. Early adopters include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the Leibnitz Supercomputing Center; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Argonne National Laboratory; and Université Laval. The computer systems involved are from IBM, Cray, and Sun.

Early adopter test results will be presented at the upcoming International Supercomputing Conference’s (ISC) “Birds of Feather” sessions on June 19, 2012, in a presentation titled “Improving Power Measurement Methodology for Driving Energy Efficiency.” For those who cannot attend, results will be available at the EE HPC WG website.

For more information, see the EE HPC WG website and the ISC’12 Agenda Planner.

To contact Natalie Bates, please use the Contact form at the EE HPC WG website.

Mark Wilson