AMD’s MI300 APUs Power Exascale “El Capitan” Supercomputer

We already knew AMD would power the world’s fastest supercomputer – the US Department of Energy (DOE) El Capitan. Expected to be installed in 2023 at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the HPE-built system initially leveraged AMD’s Zen 4 CPU cores and MI Instinct GPU accelerators, unlocking unheard-of performance above the 2 Exaflop mark. Yet there’s something that the initial announcement didn’t say: the system won’t be leveraging disparate CPU and GPU accelerators. Instead, confirming our speculation, El Capitan will be leveraging AMD’s recently-announced MI 300 Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). It marks the first time an APU is a supercomputer’s central processing grunt (opens in new tab)– and at Exascale, no less.

“It’s the first time we’ve publicly stated this,” said associate director for HPC (High Performance Computing) at LLNL, Terri Quinn. In a world-first disclosure in a presentation delivered today to the 79th HPC User Forum at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), he added that the information came straight from the source: “I cut these words out of [AMD’s] investors document, and that’s what it says: it’s a 3D chiplet design with AMD CDNA3 GPUs, Zen 4 CPUs, cache memory and HBM chiplets.”

New Technology Era

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