Dell pushing hybrid quantum/classical system in HPC overhaul • The Register

SC22 Dell is expanding its high-performance computing (HPC) portfolio with the addition of a quantum computing platform — where customers can begin testing quantum algorithms — plus a revamped APEX service and PowerEdge systems based on Intel’s next-generation Sapphire Rapids processors.

Unveiled at the SC22 conference in Dallas, Dell said its updated technologies and services are designed to help customers run demanding applications. One intriguing part of the announcement is the Dell Quantum Computing Solution, which is a hybrid quantum/classical platform delivered using the company’s PowerEdge servers combined with quantum technology from IonQ.

Dell’s feature is that it is a platform to introduce business customers to the quantum world and not a full quantum system that will allow you to suddenly start cracking encryption algorithms.

“We’ve done a lot of finishing of the solution offering as well as the integration with IonQ in order to make it a full product that customers can buy now, in what we see as a journey towards the quantum, which was about getting hands on keyboard and learning, doing experiments,” said Ken Dorazzo, vice president of the research office CTO of Dell.

“Then you get deep into learning and you can start to find out which applications in your environment are more likely to leverage quantum acceleration, and then build a proof of concept, and finally manufacture,” he added.

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The quantum computing solution consists of two parts. The first is Dell’s hardware and software environment that includes a quantum simulator, consisting of one or more PowerEdge 750xa server nodes that can be deployed across the enterprise. The second is access to IonQ’s Aria quantum computer over the Internet, when customers are willing to test actual quantum hardware.

“The client will be able to perform any experimental simulation here on the spot[s], and only when they need to access an actual physical quantum platform will the traffic go through the Internet. So this part is fully included, including simulators that allow the customer to learn and experience locally. And when they wanted to see how the application would accelerate on the real platform, then they would run it across the web,” Dorazzo said.

The Qiskit Dell Runtime allows users to build quantum applications in a “write once, run anywhere” fashion, so that the programming and the way the code executes is the same regardless of where it runs on the virtual or physical quantum processor.

Dell’s quantum computing solution will be available first in the US and Canada, but will roll out to other territories over the next year.

Meanwhile, Dell is expanding the HPC systems it makes available through its APEX portfolio as a service. The new Dell APEX High Performance Computing is now a much more comprehensive package, according to the company’s director of HPC product management, Armando Acosta.

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“When you looked at the original proposal, it was basically, hey, we can do HPC, we give you some compute, we give you some storage. What we’re doing here is we’re basically giving you the full managed stack with HPC,” he told us .

The way it works is like a building block approach, Acosta said, using validated designs for financial services, life sciences or manufacturing, for example.

“We’ve created a validated design where we say to you, here’s your compute building block, here’s your network building block, here’s your storage building block and then here’s how we’ve optimized it, based on running a benchmark. And now we can actually tell you, based on guidance Performance on your end, or capability, that’s what we can build for you,” he told us.

Competitor HPE began selling supercomputing as a service through its Greenlake platform a few years ago.

Enterprises can choose from several computing options from Dell, so computational fluid dynamics may have memory-intensive needs, Acosta said, and customers can choose to add GPUs for accelerated workloads. Storage options include the choice of shared NFS running on PowerEdge or Dell PowerScale NAS servers, while connectivity starts with 100Gbps Ethernet with InfiniBand option.

Using the Dell Cloud Managed Services Console, customers can choose what type of jobs they want to run and event management, and it integrates with Bright Cluster Manager for monitoring and alerts.

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Acosta said Dell is working to integrate its Omnia HPC stack into this APEX service. This is essentially Dell’s build of the OpenHPC open source toolkit, which uses Ansible playbooks to deploy environments using Kubernetes and Docker, or a more traditional HPC environment using the Slurm job scheduler.

“So if you just have your traditional users who want to do modeling and simulation, we can give you a traditional Slurm environment. But if you’re a data scientist, or someone who does data analytics, then we’ve set up a Kubernetes and Docker environment for you in that aspect,” Acosta explained.

For now, Dell APEX High Performance Computing is only available in the US, with wider availability to come.

Also at SC22, Dell announced new PowerEdge servers. The PowerEdge XE9680 is a dual system that will include a pair of Intel’s fourth-generation Xeon Scalable processors plus eight Nvidia H100 or A100 Tensor Core processors.

The PowerEdge XE9640 combines Intel Xeon processors with four Intel Data Center GPU Max series GPU accelerators, and the PowerEdge XE8640 includes two fourth-generation Xeon Scalable processors and four H100 GPUs.

These new PowerEdge servers have planned global availability sometime in the first half of 2023, according to the fourth generation Xeon Scalable chips themselves. ®

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