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2008 Supercomputing Conference

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Oak Ridge Dives Into Science at the Petascale

Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently unveiled the first petascale system dedicated to scientific research, a Cray XT machine with a theoretical peak performance of 1.64 petaflops. We talked with Doug Kothe, director of science at ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences, about the challenges of and potential breakthroughs in science now possible with this built-for-science petascale system.

2010 Annual HPCwire Readers Choice Awards

Feature Articles from SC08

Compilers and More: A GPU and Accelerator Programming Model

(12/09/2008) – If you are familiar with current approaches to programming accelerators, you are either discomforted by the complexities, or excited at the levels of control you can get. Can we come up with a different model of GPU and accelerator programming — a model that allows HPC programmers to focus on domain science instead of on computer science?
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OpenCL Update

(11/21/2008) – OpenCL (the Open Computing Language) is under development by the Khronos Group as an open, royalty-free standard for parallel programming of CPUs, GPUs, the Cell and other parallel processors. An update of the effort was presented at SC08 on Nov. 17.
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HPC Clouds — Alto Cirrus or Cumulonimbus

(11/21/2008) – The “cloud” model of exporting user workload and services to remote, distributed and virtual environments is emerging as a powerful computing paradigm. Yet, one domain that challenges this model in its characteristics and needs is high performance computing.
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Live From the Show Floor: A Conversation with SiCortex Chief Engineer Matt Reilly

(11/20/2008) – John West had a great conversation with Matt Reilly, chief engineer for SiCortex. Matt talked about what’s going on with the SiCortex’s low power, high density compute platform, and then he discussed the need for the computer science curriculum to include parallelism.
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Incoming: 10 Gigabit Ethernet for HPC

(11/20/2008) – InfiniBand has been a comfort zone for those tightly-coupled HPC applications that can’t live without their addiction to low latency and high speed. If your application is a science experiment with good funding and no firm schedule, that’s OK. If your application involves business, deadlines, and ROI, it’s time to break out of that comfort zone and acquaint yourself with 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
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The Greening of Renault’s Formula One CFD Program

(11/19/2008) – At SC08 this week, Appro announced it had completed the final deployment of 38 teraflop Xtreme-X supercomputer for the ING Renault F1 Team. The new system lives in a brand new CFD facility, built for environmentally-friendly computing.
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Latest Benchmark Results on NEC Super Highlights SX-9 Performance

(11/19/2008) – Researchers at Tohoku University in Sendai, north-eastern Japan, announced on Wednesday that they had broken a batch of performance records on their NEC SX-9 supercomputer, as measured on the HPC Challenge Benchmark test. Hiroaki Kobayashi, director the university’s Cyberscience Center, said the SX-9 had achieved the highest marks ever in 19 of 28 areas the test evaluates in computer processing, memory bandwidth and networking bandwidth.
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Live From the Show Floor: Wednesday

(11/19/2008) – John West talks with John Lee, vice president of advanced technology solutions for Appro; Steve Cumings, director of infrastructure for HP’s Scalable Computing and Infrastructure Group; Morgan Littlewood, vice president of Violin Memory; Jim Falgout, chief technologist for Pervasive’s DataRush; and Dave Ellis, director of HPC architecture for LSI, on the SC08 show floor. We also present our second Two-Option Audio Quiz.
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The Search for Stable Storage

(11/19/2008) – A team led by Thomas Schulthess of Oak Ridge National Laboratory has broken the petaflop barrier with a supercomputing application likely to accelerate the revolution in magnetic storage. Using ORNL’s upgraded Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer, the team was able to achieve a sustained performance of 1.05 petaflops for an application that simulates the behavior of electron systems.
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Closing the Parallelism Gap with the Chapel Language

(11/19/2008) – Chapel is a high-level parallel programming language being developed by Cray for DARPA’s High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program. We asked Brad Chamberlain, the technical lead for the Chapel language project, to give us an overview of the language, the rational behind its design, and an update on the current state of the Chapel effort.
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Sun Reinvents HPC Offerings for SC08

(11/18/2008) – This week Sun is announcing new Constellation wins at Sandia and Aachen University, which come on the heels of large announcements at Forschungszentrum Jülich slated for installation in 2009, the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Information system, and a system in Canada at the Ontario Cancer Biomarker Network.
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Live From the Show Floor: Monday

(11/18/2008) – John West talks with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro, Sun Microsystems EVP John Fowler, and SGI SVP Dave Parry on the SC08 show floor. John also corners some randomly chosen exhibitors and attendees and gives them our Two-Option Audio Quiz.
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The GPGPU Chronicles: NVIDIA Goes Personal; AMD Keeps Streaming

(11/18/2008) – New GPGPU computing platforms are in the works at NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA has partnered with a number of OEMs and system integrators to offer Tesla-equipped personal supercomputers, while AMD has released its most powerful GPU computing board, the AMD FireStream 9270, and has also partnered with Silicon Valley startup Aprius to offer a 9.6 teraflop GPU expansion chassis.
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Michael Dell Talks HPC

(11/18/2008) – Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell delivered the keynote address at the Supercomputing conference this morning in Austin, Texas, offering his perspective on where high performance computing is headed. We caught up with Dell shortly before the conference to get a preview of the keynote and to ask him about some of the hot-button issues that are driving the HPC industry today.
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Straight Shooter: A Conversation with 2008 Seymour Cray Award Winner Steve Wallach

(11/17/2008) – Supercomputing legend Steve Wallach will be honored at SC08 with IEEE’s Seymour Cray Award. HPCwire recently talked to Wallach about everything from the future of HPC to his philosophy on building a successful HPC business.
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Startup Provides a New Twist on Reconfigurable Supercomputing

(11/17/2008) – The HPC community has been dabbling with Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for several years now, but the technology has never reached escape velocity. But at SC08 this week, startup Convey Computer Corp. launched a new server and software stack that aims to tame FPGAs and deliver reconfigurable computing to everyday HPC users.
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Supercomputing Conference Turns 20

(11/16/2008) – After more than a year of planning, the 20th annual Supercomputing conference (SC08) kicks off on Monday in Austin, Texas. SC08’s general chair, Patricia J. Teller, tells us what we can look forward to this week.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Friday

(11/12/2008) – Although the final day of the conference is always a half-day, it’s often a half-day not to be missed, and this year is no exception.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Thursday

(11/12/2008) – Thursday’s examination of the large scale computations and technologies needed to support fusion science in “Simulation at the Petascale and Beyond for Fusion Energy Science” falls into both the Computing at Scale and Application Horizons themes and provides a view into one of the most pressing research areas of our time.
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Perspectives on HPC and the SC Series of Conferences

(11/12/2008) – Once a year, the leading experts from the world of high performance computing gather at SC to assess the current state of HPC and to look ahead to what the future holds. As the conference prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, several industry thought leaders and long-time attendees reflect on what is most important to them.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Wednesday

(11/11/2008) – Wednesday morning starts off looking at one of the most talked about visions of the HPC future to come on the scene in the recent past: Parallel Computing Landscape: A View from Berkeley. David Patterson, one of the report’s principal authors, discusses A View in this invited talk.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Sunday and Monday

(11/10/2008) – Sunday and Monday during the conference feature a wide range of informative tutorials and thought provoking workshops. These days before the conference begins in earnest can be a good time to settle in and make the transition from everyday work into a frame of mind where you can do something that is increasingly a rare activity: thinking strategically about how supercomputing and HPC fit into your business.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Making the Most of the Conference

(11/10/2008) – The annual Supercomputing (SC) conference is the most important gathering of high performance computing professionals in the United States. You’d like to make sure that your time there is well spent, but SC can easily overwhelm attendees. It is all too easy to end up wandering the show floor for three days with the vague sense that you’re missing something.
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Executive Guide to SC08: Tuesday

(11/10/2008) – Tuesday marks the first full day of the conference technical program. This year’s conference keynote will be given by Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, Inc. Dell’s selection reflects both the changing face of the industry, and the conference’s location – Dell is headquartered about 20 miles north of Austin in Round Rock, Texas.
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Special Commentary from SC08

Michael FeldmanMichael Feldman
What Caught My Attention at SC08
A show the size of the Supercomputing Conference is difficult to swallow whole. With hundreds of exhibitors and conference activities, it’s virtually impossible to get a balanced perspective. That said, here are a few areas that caught my attention at SC08. Read more…

Michael FeldmanMichael Feldman
In a Photo Finish, Roadrunner Beats Jaguar
Last week’s announcement of the upgraded “Jaguar” system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory had a lot of people, including yours truly, thinking that the Cray super would take the TOP500 crown this time around. It was not to be. Read more…

Michael FeldmanMichael Feldman
Supercomputing Puts On a Happy Face
Amid the gloomiest economy in decades, the year’s Supercomputing conference — SC08 — got underway in Austin, Texas. Despite the worldwide financial turmoil, the 2008 conference may turn out to be the largest SC event of them all, with over 330 exhibitors and more than 10,000 registered attendees. Read more…

Michael FeldmanMichael Feldman
Packing for SC08
The 20th annual Supercomputing (SC) conference launches next week in Austin, Texas. As usual, HPCwire will be providing live coverage, but this year we decided to include some pre-conference guidance for the event. Read more…

Off the Wire from SC08