HPL-AI Mixed-Precision Benchmark

The HPL-AI benchmark seeks to highlight the emerging convergence of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads. While traditional HPC focused on simulation runs for modeling phenomena in physics, chemistry, biology, and so on, the mathematical models that drive these computations require, for the most part, 64-bit accuracy. On the other hand, the machine learning methods that fuel advances in AI achieve desired results at 32-bit and even lower floating-point precision formats. This lesser demand for accuracy fueled a resurgence of interest in new hardware platforms that deliver a mix of unprecedented performance levels and energy savings to achieve the classification and recognition fidelity afforded by higher-accuracy formats.

HPL-AI strives to unite these two realms by delivering a blend of modern algorithms and contemporary hardware while simultaneously connecting to the solver formulation of the decades-old HPL framework of benchmarking the largest supercomputing installations in the world. The solver method of choice is a combination of LU factorization and iterative refinement performed afterwards to bring the solution back to 64-bit accuracy. The innovation of HPL-AI lies in dropping the requirement of 64-bit computation throughout the entire solution process and instead opting for low-precision (likely 16-bit) accuracy for LU, and a sophisticated iteration to recover the accuracy lost in factorization. The iterative method guaranteed to be numerically stable is the generalized minimal residual method (GMRES), which uses application of the L and U factors to serve as a preconditioner. The combination of these algorithms is demonstrably sufficient for high accuracy and may be implemented in a way that takes advantage of the current and upcoming devices for accelerating AI workloads.