Europe's fastest computer? Atos unveils BullSequana XH300 'exascale-class' supercomputer

France's Atos unveils the BullSequana XH300, a new supercomputer that could become Europe's fastest, heralding exascale supercomputing.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

French tech giant Atos has taken the wraps off its latest BullSequana supercomputer, the XH300 – a far more powerful system than its BullSequana XH200, which underpins the world's eighth fastest supercomputer.

The BullSequana XH300 combines CPUs, GPUs and accelerators from AMD, Intel and Nvidia, as well as microprocessor tech from French firm The Silicon Pearl (SiPearl), according to a statement from Atos

Atos bills the BullSequana XH300 as 'exascale-class', by which the French tech firm is referring to the high-performance computer (HPC) industry's ambition to achieve benchmarking scores in the 'exscale' tier of the performance measurement 'floating-point operations per second', or Flop/s. 

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Most of the top supercomputers are measured in terms of hundreds of Peta-Flop/s (equating to one quadrillion Flop/s), but some, like Japan's Fugaku, achieve a 'peak performance' in excess of 1,000 Peta-Flop/s or 1 Exa-Flop/s. However, that's in a mode of operation called 'single or further-reduced precision'.

According to Top500, which ranks the world's fastest 500 supercomputers, Fugaku is the world's first exascale supercomputer based on its High Performance Computing Linpack (HPL) benchmark results in this mode of operation. Supercomputer operators must submit their HPL results to Top500 to be included in the ranking.

Fugaku may be the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to Top500's November 2021 list, but even with 7.6 million cores, it currently achieves a regular HPL benchmark of 442 Peta-Flop/s, which is still short of exascale but the closest any supercomputer currently comes. 

Fugaku is well ahead of the fastest US system, Summit, an IBM-built system with 2.4 million cores at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Summit has an HPL score of 128 Pflop/s 

Meanwhile, the JUWELS Boost Module at German research center Forschungszentrum Jülich is based on the BullSequana XH200. JUWELS has 449,280 cores and has a Linpack benchmark of 44 Pflop/s, placing it in eighth position. It's currently Europe's most powerful supercomputer.

Earl Joseph, CEO of HPC industry analyst firm Hyperion Research, says the BullSequana XH300 gives Atos a "strong roadmap for exascale".

The new Atos supercomputer is good news for Europe's ambitions to become a serious supercomputer and quantum computing player on the world stage and address the EU's concerns about digital sovereignty.

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