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The Future of Advanced Computing: Introducing Vista

Summary

A new era in advanced computing is set to begin at the University of Texas at Austin with the arrival of Vista, a cutting-edge system centered around artificial intelligence (AI). Scheduled to be operational by early 2024, Vista will serve […]

The Future of Advanced Computing: Introducing Vista

A new era in advanced computing is set to begin at the University of Texas at Austin with the arrival of Vista, a cutting-edge system centered around artificial intelligence (AI). Scheduled to be operational by early 2024, Vista will serve as the foundation for Horizon, a planned advancement in computing capabilities projected to be funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the 2025 budget.

Horizon aims to provide 10 times the computational power of Frontier, the leading academic supercomputer in the United States and the largest supercomputer in the NSF’s research infrastructure. With Vista acting as a bridge between Frontier and Horizon, the scientific community will have access to the most advanced computing technologies and AI capabilities.

One of the significant differences between Vista and Frontier lies in their respective architectures. Vista will mark a transition from the x86 architecture used in TACC’s Frontier, Stampede systems, and others to advanced Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture based on Arm processors (CPUs). The NVIDIA Grace CPU Superchip, designed specifically for AI and scientific computing, will form the core of Vista’s computational power. Nearly half of Vista’s computational nodes will utilize the NVIDIA GH200 Grace Hopper Superchip, which combines the Grace CPU with the NVIDIA Hopper architecture based on GPUs. This unique combination allows for continuous GPU access to CPU memory and enables the utilization of more complex AI models. Additionally, Vista’s memory implementation will utilize LPDDR5 technology, supporting higher throughput and greater energy efficiency.

Vista’s primary purpose is to facilitate access to state-of-the-art computing and AI technology for the broader scientific community, fostering responsible and reliable AI research for national prosperity. TACC expects that the experience gained from Vista and other systems such as Stampede3 (Intel) and Lonestar6 (AMD) will provide invaluable insights into three key architectural pathways that could be pursued for future systems, including Horizon.

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