GPUs Further Russia’s Supercomputing Efforts, Accelerate Its Fastest System

by George Millington

Russia is betting on NVIDIA’s gaming technology to accelerate its scientific research. And it’s paying off.

In the recently released list of Russia’s top 50 highest performance systems, NVIDIA GPUs — for the fifth time in a row — landed in the top spot with Moscow State University’s “Lomonosov” supercomputer.

Overall, GPUs power three of the top 10 and nearly one-third of the top 50 systems on the list, which is issued twice yearly. It’s a remarkable stat considering that no GPU-accelerated systems were on the list just three years ago.

Lomonosov supercomputer
Moscow State University’s Lomonosov supercomputer glows green with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs inside.

Thanks to an upgrade with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs in 2011, Lomonosov claims its spot easily. It delivers 1.7 petaflops of peak performance, making it the fastest accelerator-based supercomputer not just in Russia but in all of Europe. It was built to tackle major scientific challenges in areas such as magnetic hydrodynamics, quantum chemistry, seismology, drug discovery, geology and materials science.

Russia Doubles Down on GPUs

The latest Top 50 list reflects Russia’s ongoing effort to expand its investments in high performance computing to fuel the growth of its economy through better science and technology.

It joins an expanding list of countries, including China, India, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States, that are supercharging their computing infrastructures to drive technology innovation and scientific research.

GPU-accelerated computing has been growing right along with it.

According to a chart accompanying the Top 50 list, GPU-accelerated Russian supercomputers are the only category of systems that has grown steadily over the past few years — while others remain flat or are in decline:

Russsia Top 50 supercomputers

The two other NVIDIA GPU-powered supercomputers in the top 10 are located at the Russian Academy of Sciences (#5) and at the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics (Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, #6).

In addition to the increasing installation of accelerated systems, most major universities and institutes in Russia teach parallel programing with CUDA GPUs and maintain scientific research programs around GPUs. Moscow State University, the home of Lomonosov, is itself a CUDA Center of Excellence.