SC20 Proceedings

The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis

Chronicles of Astra: Challenges and Lessons from the First Petascale Arm Supercomputer

Authors: Kevin Pedretti, Andrew J. Younge, Simon D. Hammond, James H. Laros III, Matthew L. Curry, Michael J. Aguilar, Robert J. Hoekstra, and Ron Brightwell (Sandia National Laboratories)

Abstract: Arm processors have been explored in HPC for several years, however there has not yet been a demonstration of viability for supporting large-scale production workloads. In this paper, we offer a retrospective on the process of bringing up Astra, the first petascale supercomputer based on 64-bit Arm processors, and validating its ability to run production HPC applications. Through this process several immature technology gaps were addressed, including software stack enablement, Linux bugs at scale, thermal management issues, power management capabilities and advanced container support. From this experience, several lessons learned that contributed to the successful deployment of Astra are formulated. These insights can be helpful to accelerate deploying and maturing other first-seen HPC technologies. With Astra now supporting many users running a diverse set of production applications at multi-thousand node scales, we believe this constitutes strong supporting evidence that Arm is a viable technology for even the largest-scale supercomputer deployments.

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