2013 Supercomputing Conference

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SC13 in Review: The Week’s Top Newsmakers

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This year at SC13 we counted over 100 HPC-specific announcements that hit the wires over the course of the week, many of which were from vendors, organizations and users that we were within a short walk across the show floor in Denver.

We wanted to point to some of the key newsmakers during the show, but before we delve deeper into some of their news items, there were some stories that deemed “best in show” during the course of the event. Read more…

Feature Articles from SC13

SC13 Wrapup: Supercomputing’s Top Themes

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For those of us who traveled to Denver for SC13, it’s now back to “normal” as the year in high performance computing begins its slow descent into relative silence before a fresh start in 2014.

Sitting down to plow through the plethora of new items to pluck for a top announcements article seemed impossible without first discussing some of the broader trends and themes—they beg to be heard. Read more…

HPC Luminaries Reflect on 25 Years of SC

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As SC13 comes to a close, we thought it might be a good time to take a look back at what the last 25 years of the SC conference has meant for key people in the supercomputing space. From Jack Dongarra, Horst Simon, Kathy Yelick and others, take a step back in time (and see how no one has aged a bit) and listen to these handful of perspectives we’ve compiled. Read more…

Intel Brings Knights to the Roundtable at SC13

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This week during SC13, Intel hosted a roundtable session to discuss the future of its upcoming Knights Landing product, hitting on where the key benefits are expected for technical computing users and how Knight’s Landing might influence the shape of next generation systems and applications.

As Intel turns its focus on the Xeon front to doubling FLOPS, boosting memory bandwidth and stitching in I/O, technical computing lead Raj Hazra says the long-term goal is to make the full transition from multi-core to manycore via the Knights-codenamed family. Read more…

Micron Exposes the Double Life of Memory with Automata Processor

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If we had to take a pick from some of the most compelling announcements from SC13, the news from memory vendor (although that narrow distinction may soon change) Micron about its new Automata processor is at the top of the list. While at this point there’s still enough theory to lead us to file this under a technology to watch, the concept is unique in what it promises—both to Micron’s future and the accelerator/CPU space for some key HPC-oriented workloads. Read more…

Gordon Bell Prize Bubbles from Sequoia

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Each year at SC, the ACM hands out one of the most coveted awards, the Gordon Bell Prize. The award, which became a regular feature of SC, began in 1987 and now carries a $10,000 prize sponsored by parallel computing luminary, Gordon Bell. Winners demonstrate high peak performance figures on real world applications or demonstrate other performance-geared achievements, including incredible advances in scaling, time to solution of scientific applications or other feats of HPC might. Read more…

Mont Blanc Forges Cluster from Smartphone Chips

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The Mont Blanc project, an effort by a number of European supercomputing centers and vendors that seeks to create an energy-efficient supercomputer based on ARM processors and GPU coprocessors, has put together its third prototype. That is one more step on the path to an exascale system.

The third generation machine, which is being shown off at the SC13 conference in Denver this week, is by far the most elegant one that the Mont Blanc project has created thus far. Read more…

NVIDIA Kepler Parts Top Green500

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Twice a year, in step with the biannual TOP500 list, the Green500 list ranks the most powerful systems in the world based on energy-efficiency. Published Wednesday evening at SC13, this year’s Green500 list continues a trend from previous years, the rise of heterogenous supercomputing. The latest list shows that the top 10 greenest systems are powered by NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, specifically the Kepler parts. Read more…

SC Launches HPC Matters Video Challenge

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With SC13 in Denver, Colorado, starting to wind down, this mostly-volunteer organization is looking ahead to SC14, where the conference will reprise its SC10 venue: New Orleans. The theme for next year’s show is HPC Matters.

So why does HPC matter? We can get carried away with visions of big iron and unlimited FLOPS, but as always it comes back to the applications. Read more…

HPC Power Efficiency and the Green500

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The first Green500 List was launched in November 2007 ranking the energy efficiency of supercomputers. Co-founder Kirk W. Cameron discusses the events that led to creation of the Green500 List, its maturation, and future directions.

An Early Supercomputer Efficiency “List”

In 2001 the notions of Green HPC and energy proportional computing were unknown. Read more…

HPC Quiz: How Do Your SC Credentials Stack Up?

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How do your SC skills stack up? Take this quiz and share the results with its author, Andrew Jones, aka @HPCnotes on Twitter or (maybe not) with your boss…

Q1. Your boss asks you “what is this SC thing then”? Do you:

a)       Panic and remain mute, hoping they just approve the trip. Read more…

SC13 Talk Pushes HPC in New Educational Directions

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According to Dr. Thom Dunning from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, science and engineering research has been revolutionized by computation but, to date computing has largely been used to organize, prepare for and disseminate courses. Dunning says that “The potential of using these technologies to teach students the fundamental principles of a subject through authentic computational simulation is largely unexplored.”

During a presentation today (Tuesday) as part of the SC13 Invited Speakers program, Dunning will discuss how “computational tools and simulations has been used to help teach high school and college chemistry. Read more…

Top 500 Interconnect History Highlights Ethernet Trends

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As we related earlier when the news of the Top 500 rankings broke this morning, this November’s SC list was a rather static one in terms of the top ten systems. While this isn’t entirely unexpected since it was not likely anyone would usurp China’s dominance and since there were no big processor movements in the last year that would warrant dramatic performance boosts, there are some noteworthy trends that lie hidden in the numbers. Read more…

LINPACK Creator Sheds Light on Emerging HPC Benchmark

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Back in June during the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), we discussed the need for a potential alternative to the current LINPACK benchmark, which is the sturdy yardstick by which supercomputing might is measured, with its creator, Dr. Jack Dongarra.

At that time, he described a new benchmarking effort that is taking shape with the input of several collaborators, called the high performance conjugate gradient (HPCG) benchmark. Read more…

Extreme Computational Biology at SC13: An Interview with Dr. Klaus Schulten

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According to Dr. Klaus Schulten from the University of Illinois, the molecular dynamics and visualization programs NAMD and VMD, which serve over 300,000 registered users in many fields of biology and medicine, are pushing the limits of extreme scale computational biology. Schulten says these programs can operate on a wide variety of hardware and offer new inroads to medical discovery. Read more…

Tesla GPU Accelerators Hit the Gas with GPU Boost

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Nvidia is rolling out a new top-end GPU accelerator, called the Tesla K40, that has both more processing capacity and more memory than the current K20X accelerator that is popular in high-end clusters – particularly those that need double precision floating point math.

The upgrade is offering significant performance improvements through the activation of more cores on the GPU and also through a new GPU Boost mode that lets the CUDA cores overclock. Read more…

Breaking: Results in for this Year’s Top500 Supercomputer List

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While we hope you’ll stay tuned this morning for a detailed analysis of major trends on this year’s Top500 list, for now, we wanted to deliver the breaking results of this year’s systems, many of which are not surprising when compared to last year’s June list. As you can see below from the Top 10, very little movement–although there are some notable trends on the processor, interconnect, accelerator and other fronts that we will discuss later this morning. Read more…

SC13 Research Highlight: Dynamic Electric Pricing for Energy Aware Scheduling

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As supercomputers continue to grow, so do the associated electricity bills. These costs are now a leading component of total cost of ownership (TCO) of HPC systems. A team from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory aims to reduce electricity expense of HPC systems via a smart batch scheduling mechanism. Read more…

SC13 Research Highlight: Large Graph Processing Without the Overhead

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Many real world information networks consist of millions or billions of vertices representing heterogeneous entities and billions or trillions of edges representing heterogeneous types of relationships among entities.

For example, the crawled Web graph is estimated to have more than 20 billions of pages (vertices) with 160 billions hyperlinks (edges). Read more…

SC13 Research Highlight: Extreme Scale Plasma Turbulence Simulation

Electrostatic field in magnetically confined plasmas (Image courtesy of Kwan-Liu Ma, UC Davis) (11/16/2013) - 

As the global energy economy makes the transition from fossil fuels toward cleaner alternatives, fusion becomes an attractive potential solution for satisfying the growing needs. Fusion energy, which is the power source for the sun, can be generated on earth, for example, in magnetically-confined laboratory plasma experiments (called “tokamaks”) when the isotopes of hydrogen (e.g., deuterium and tritium) combine to produce an energetic helium “alpha” particle and a fast neutron – with an overall energy multiplication factor of 450:1. Read more…

SC13 Research Highlight: COCA Targets Datacenter Costs, Carbon Neutrality

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The rapid growth of high performance computing and cloud computing services in recent years has contributed to the dramatic increase in the number and scale of data centers, resulting in a huge demand for electricity.

According to recent studies, the combined electricity consumption of global data centers amounts to 623 billion kWh annually and would rank 5th in the world if the data center were a country. Read more…

Special Commentary from SC13

Off the Wire from SC13

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