HIGH THROUGHPUT COMPUTING: AN INTERVIEW WITH MIRON LIVNY

By Alan Beck, editor in chief

June 27, 1997

  This month, NCSA's (National Center for Supercomputing Applications)
Advanced Computing Group (ACG) will begin testing Condor, a software system
developed at the University of Wisconsin that promises to expand computing
capabilities through efficient capture of cycles on idle machines. The
software, operating within an HTC (High Throughput Computing) rather than a
traditional HPC (High Performance Computing) paradigm, organizes machines
into clusters, called pools, or collections of clusters called flocks, that
can exchange resources. Condor then hunts for idle workstations to run jobs.
When the owner resumes computing, Condor migrates the job to another machine.

  To learn more about recent Condor developments, HPCwire interviewed Miron
Livny, professor of Computer Science, University of Wisconsin at Madison and
principal investigator for the Condor Project. Following are selected
excerpts from that discussion.

---

  HPCwire: Please provide a brief background on the Condor Project and your
role in it.

  LIVNY: "The Condor project has been underway for about 10 years now; I'm
currently head of the effort to further develop the software, implement and
deploy it. We are now also closely tied with NCSA.

  "The underlying idea revolves around the contrast between compute power
which is owned and that which can be accessed. When we started about 15 years
ago, this gap was relatively small. For example, when I joined the department
we had two 780s, and I had accounts on both. These were one MIP machines.
Today, I have a 200 MIP machine on my desk -- and we have 400 machines like
this in the department, although I don't have accounts on them. So for me to
access all these resources I need additional software. The main obstacle this
software faces is the problem of distributed ownership. We were the first to
identify and significantly address this critical issue."

  HPCwire: How?

  LIVNY: "The first step is to discuss with the owner of a resource who,
when, and how that resource can be used by others. Once the owners are happy,
we can move on and deal with the more technical aspects of the system.

  HPCwire: How does the Condor project differ from conventional approaches to
distributed resources?

  LIVNY: "The Condor project is referred to as High Throughput Computing
(HTC) rather than the traditional High Performance Computing (HPC). HPC deals
with floating-point operations per second, and I like to portray HTC as
floating-point operations per year. We believe there are many scientists and
engineers who are interested in the question: 'What can I accomplish
(computationally) in two to six months?' HTC serves a vital role for this
group of researchers.

  "HPC brings enormous amounts of computing power to bear over relatively
short periods of time. HTC employs large amounts of computing power for very
lengthy periods. This is important simply because throughput is the primary
limiting factor in many scientific and engineering efforts. For example, if
you must manufacture a chip, you have a window of about three months to run
as many simulations as you can before bringing the product to market.
Essentially, this is an HTC problem. If you have a high-energy physicist who
is reconstructing events and enriching them with Monte Carlo data, the
project has a year or two to complete, but the more computational resources
that can be brought to bear in that time, the greater will be the statistical
significance attained. This too is an application basically limited by
throughput rather than response time."

  HPCwire: What criteria determine whether HPC or HTC is more appropriate?

  LIVNY: "HPC must be used for decision-support (person-in-the-loop) or
applications under sharp time-constraint, such as weather modeling. However,
those doing sensitivity analyses, parametric studies or simulations to
establish statistical confidence need HTC. We use HTC for neural-network
training, Monte Carlo statistics, and a very wide variety of simulations,
including computer hardware, scheduling policies, and communication
protocols, annealing, even combustion-engine simulations, where 100 or even
1000 jobs are submitted to explore the entire parameter space."

  HPCwire: Given the rapidly growing power of workstations, do you feel HTC
will be able to increasingly address HPC-type problems?

  LIVNY: "Yes, and we already see it happening. For example, our campus has
cancelled a surplus cycle account at SDSC (San Diego Supercomputer Center),
because we were able to fulfill the needs of everyone at the graduate school
who requested HPC resources. If someone just needs two to five months of CPU-
time, we can easily provide it. Only those who require a huge amount of
tightly-coupled memory must go to the HPC end."

  HPCwire: Please detail the work you're doing with NCSA.

  LIVNY: "We play a dual role with respect to NCSA. On one hand, we're a
regional partner, with over 500 workstations here on campus. These will
provide a source of cycles to NCSA and a testbed for scientists who would
like to see how well their applications work in an HTC environment. On the
other hand, we're also an enabling technology, where our experience in
building and maintaining Condor will contribute to the construction of the
National Technology Grid. Thus, we hope we can soon move from a campus-wide
to a nation-wide HTC system."

  HPCwire: How can our readers experiment with Condor?

  LIVNY: "The software is freely available and can be downloaded from our
Website at http://www.cs.wisc.edu/condor  There are also pointers at the NCSA
homepages."

  HPCwire: Do you also foresee Condor moving into a commercial context?

  LIVNY: "IBM's LoadLeveler, which runs on SP, is already a commercial
offspring of Condor. We're currently moving in the direction of NT, and I
believe there will be a significant commercial implication there. We are now
talking with several commercial entities interested in seeing what Condor can
do for their HTC applications. I certainly believe that industry could
benefit from all these idle cycles -- if they only knew how to utilize them.

  "Over the last year we've restructured our software so that it relies less
on Unix-specific functionality. We hope to have the first round for NT by the
end of the summer. Condor normally provides checkpointing of applications and
redirection of I/O, but the first versions for NT will not provide those --
only resource allocation and management. However, our goal for the end of the
year is to have a full-featured supported version for NT.

  HPCwire: Are you planning to create a version fully compatible with both
operating systems?

  LIVNY: "Yes -- although obviously it won't be able to do migrate jobs
between UNIX and NT. Right now we're running across architectures; at UW we
have a heterogeneous environment composed of 6 or 7 different UNIX/flavor
combinations. Soon NT machines will come in as submission sites or
cycle-servers and will co-exist in the UNIX environment. We see no technical
obstacles to this."

  HPCwire: Are there any further points you would like to emphasize?

  LIVNY: "It is very important to be able to harness the enormous amount of
computing power we already have at our fingertips -- whether this is done
through Condor or another way. We have focused too long on the problem of how
to run a single application, and we have not paid enough attention to how to
run 100 or 1000. I have one user at the University of Washington who
regularly submits 2000 jobs at one keystroke."

--------------------
Alan Beck is editor in chief of HPCwire. Comments are always welcome.


Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

How the United States Invests in Supercomputing

November 14, 2018

The CORAL supercomputers Summit and Sierra are now the world's fastest computers and are already contributing to science with early applications. Ahead of SC18, Maciej Chojnowski with ICM at the University of Warsaw discussed the details of the CORAL project with Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov from the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more…

By Maciej Chojnowski

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is enjoying a prosperity seen only every few decades, one driven Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, produ Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

From Deep Blue to Summit – 30 Years of Supercomputing Innovation

This week, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the SC conference, we are highlighting some of the most significant IBM contributions to supercomputing over the past 30 years. Read more…

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that delivers up to 75 Gb/s per rack on industry standard hardware combined with “enterprise-grade reliability and manageability.” Read more…

By Doug Black

How the United States Invests in Supercomputing

November 14, 2018

The CORAL supercomputers Summit and Sierra are now the world's fastest computers and are already contributing to science with early applications. Ahead of SC18, Maciej Chojnowski with ICM at the University of Warsaw discussed the details of the CORAL project with Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov from the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more…

By Maciej Chojnowski

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is en Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that delivers up to 75 Gb/s per rack on industry standard hardware combined with “enterprise-grade reliability and manageability.” Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competitio Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC im Read more…

By John Russell

How ASCI Revolutionized the World of High-Performance Computing and Advanced Modeling and Simulation

November 9, 2018

The 1993 Supercomputing Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. That conference and it’s show floor provided a good snapshot of the uncertainty that U.S. supercomputing was facing in the early 1990s. Many of the companies exhibiting that year would soon be gone, either bankrupt or acquired by somebody else. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This