Indiana University has purchased a new Cray supercomputer called the Big Red 200. Assembly is currently in progress, and whilst it could be completed on a much shorter timeframe, the university has decided to postpone the GPU installation until summer in order to get access to Nvidia's next-generation hardware, splitting the assembly up into two phases.
The exact details surrounding the next-generation hardware are scarce. Nevertheless, Brad Wheeler told The Next Platform (opens in new tab) that although the original plan was to fit the Big Red 200 with Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs, a last minute opportunity gave them the chance to postpone the GPU installation and opt for the next-generation GPUs -- presumably the Tesla GPUs stemming from the upcoming Ampere microarchitecture.
This alternate plan is because the new GPUs are expected to offer 70-75% improvement in performance over the current-generation hardware, as noted by The Next Platform, the Volta-based V100 GPUs that would have been installed otherwise. For the IU Big Red 200 supercomputer, it means that the performance will still jump from the original predicted 5.9 petaflops to 8 petaflops with fewer GPUs.
The Big Red 200 succeeds the Big Red 2 installed in 2013. The new supercomputer is a Cray Shasta (opens in new tab) machine and is being built using 1,344 AMD Epyc 7742 (opens in new tab) processors. With 64 cores (opens in new tab)per CPU, the supercomputer will have a total of 86,000 cores and 172,000 threads (opens in new tab)to play with. This makes it one of the smaller supercomputers based on the Cray Shasta platform, as the UK Research and Innovation's Archer 2 system (opens in new tab) packs a significantly bigger punch. The GPU count is expected to be 256 units. Nevertheless, it will be the first Cray Shasta supercomputer in operation.
Exactly when the GPUs will be available or announced remains a mystery, but Indiana University (opens in new tab) has indicated that 256 Tensor Core GPUs will be installed in the fall. Given that timeframe and Nvidia announcing GPUs (opens in new tab) at GTC conferences in the past (opens in new tab), it's likely we'll be see details of the Ampere architecture revealed at GTC during Nvidia's keynote on March 23.