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June 29, 2007

The Week in Review

by John E. West

Here’s a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week’s HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com and HPCwire.

>>10 words and a link

Both Cluster Resources and Platform take aim at making clusters easier to deploy;
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/cluster-resources-escalante-to-make-deploying-hpc-systems-point-and-click-simple/ and
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/27/intels-cluster-ready-certification/.

HP and Microsoft tighten partnership around CCS 2003 solutions, centers formed;
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/hp-and-microsoft-tighten-partnership/

Savas Parastatidis posts presentations from the Microsoft-sponsored Manycore Computing Workshop;
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/manycore-workshop-presentations-online/

Bull joins Europe’s ParMA team trying to get most out of multi-core;
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/europe-working-to-get-at-the-power-of-multi-core-computers/

HP, Intel each working on helping us avert multi-core crisis;
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/27/hps-multi-core-optimization-program/ and
http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/intel-tries-to-teach-us-out-of-the-software-crisis/

>>HPC Hardware: it now goes to 11

(It’s not every HPC news source that gives you Spinal Tap references in headlines.)

Lot’s of hardware announcements this week at ISC in Dresden that Michael and others have covered very well in this issue and in daily news on the HPCwire website. So here are some quick facts that you’ll need to get you through your next vendor cocktail party.

>>Microsoft’s HPC business, all in one release

Well, if you wanted to shop for all your Microsoft HPC product strategy news in one place, they’ve just created the press release for you (http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/1635234.html). I believe in the spirit of what they’re doing, so let’s wade through together, shall we? First, this is really three press releases in one.

Part one: The Burton

Like The Donald, only with more reasonable hair. From the release:

“In a keynote address at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany, Microsoft technical fellow Dr. Burton Smith talked about new approaches to software development where everyday computer programs must be able to execute in parallel on multiple microprocessor cores, allowing developers to build more powerful, humanistic software applications that incorporate speech, conversation, rich visualization and anticipatory execution of tasks. The many-core inflection point was presented as a new challenge for the computing industry, namely general-purpose parallel computing.”

Multi-core, manycore, software problem. Good stuff.

Part two: Windows CCS adoption

“Since general availability in August 2006, Microsoft Windows Compute Cluster Server (CCS) 2003 has been adopted in financial services, manufacturing, the oil and gas industry, digital content creation, and biosciences, with HPC cluster deployments ranging in size from distributed departmental clusters to shared clusters as large as 7,000 nodes.”

Obviously lots of enterprise take up, with a big hit in the financial sector (cross-verified by the success companies like Digipede are having with their .NET-based enterprise HPC offerings). A surprise to me was the HPTC take up. It makes sense, though, since a lot of the new HPTC users we get in our center are porting codes they developed during their PhD research on — wait for it — Windows machines. Moving from Windows XP to CCS has got to be easier than moving from XP to, say, Catamount.

The release also has a long list of well-known vendors whose products support CCS these days. And then there’s the hardware vendors that have started offering CCS pre-installed. Most of these were already announced, but here’s your crib sheet if you haven’t been following along:

“These vendors include Bull SAS, Dell Inc., Equus, Fujitsu Ltd., HP, HPC Systems Inc., IBM Corp., NEC Corp., SGI, Supermicro Computer Inc., TeamHPC (a division of M&A Technology), Tyan Computer Corp., and Visual Technologies Inc.”

Part three: The List

Oh, don’t get all uppity and “what list?” with me…you know what list.

Microsoft CCS 2003 is under the hood of two machines on the Top500, but I’m only giving them credit for one: number 193, owned by Mitsubishi UFJ Securities. Number 106 is their own machine at Microsoft’s datacenter in Tukwila, Wash.

They also announced partnerships and reseller agreements with a slew of partners this week, including HP (http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/hp-and-microsoft-tighten-partnership/), Scali (http://insidehpc.com/2007/06/26/a-bushel-basketful-of-scali-news/) and others.

Windows CCS does appear to be enjoying some momentum.

>>TotalView revs, adds support for new hardware

TotalView has revved their eponymous debugger this week to version 8.2. Highlights of the new features include support for hardware from SiCortex, Cray (XT4), and Mac, along with support for Fedora Core 6 and Ubuntu.

The company also announced that it is working with IBM to bring TotalView to IBM’s new Cell-based QS20 BladeCenter Cell Broadband Engine platform, something sure to be of interest in the financial sector and DOE. More at http://www.totalviewtech.com/press_release.htm?id=78.

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John West summarizes the headlines in HPC every day at insideHPC.com, and writes on leadership and career issues for technology professionals at InfoWorld and on his own blog at onlytraitofaleader.com. You can contact him at john@insidehpc.com.