New Hardware Brings Students Closer to Exascale Computing

Spencer Bryngelson MI210

Much like household computers, current supercomputers become obsolete with advancements in technology. This poses a challenge for researchers when it is critical to have the latest hardware on hand to continue their studies.

School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Assistant Professor Spencer Bryngelson recently received an AMD MI210 GPU accelerator to use in his computational physics lab. In doing so, the research group takes a step closer to gaining access to Frontier, the world’s first exascale supercomputer.

“I don’t get excited about too many things, but this is nice. This is the next generation of supercomputing that will be around for some years,” Bryngelson said. “I’m glad to be part of it and AMD has been extremely generous and helpful in all the ways they possibly can be.”

Released in March, Georgia Tech is one of the first research institutes in the world to receive AMD’s newest hardware. The accelerator can conduct 45 trillion-plus HPC calculations in a second, which is more than twice as fast as comparable competitors, according to AMD.

The MI210 is part of AMD’s MI200 series, which includes the MI250X GPU. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Frontier supercomputer, which claimed the world’s fastest computer title in May, uses AMD MI250X GPUs. The MI210 is about half as powerful as the MI250X but uses the same architecture.

In the coming years, Bryngelson wants to access Frontier and use the supercomputer toward his research. To do so, he must configure his existing software and algorithms to operate on AMD hardware, which the MI210 enables him to do.

“We are going to prepare our applications to be able to use multiple accelerators from different manufacturers,” Bryngelson said. “This is a two-way street. AMD procures the hardware for me to prepare, and I report my results back to them.”

Bryngelson explained that he coordinated directly with AMD to receive the MI210 by advocating for his research in competition with other stakeholders. With the MI210 in hand, he can provide feedback to AMD to help them update current products and develop new technology.

Bryngelson manages the Computational Physics Group, which develops computational models and numerical methods in the study of fluid dynamics. Their research has applications in the medical, defense, and energy fields.

The addition of the MI210 accelerator is the latest hardware acquisition Bryngelson has facilitated since arriving to Tech in August 2021. In April, Bryngelson received two NVIDIA A100-80GB GPUs through the company’s Academic Hardware Grant Program.

With the addition of the AMD MI210, Bryngelson and the School of CSE are leading the charge in testing the next generation of supercomputers while providing students the latest and greatest technology available towards their research.

“It’s been great, everyone is very excited,” Bryngelson said. “My students that work on along these HPC lines of research are quite excited to have hands-on access to the workhorses of the world’s largest computers. We’re entering a small paradigm shift in supercomputing.”


Bryant Wine, Communications Officer