MICHAEL BERNHARDT ON HPC

November 17, 2000

by Alan Beck, editor in chief

San Diego, Calif. — HPCwire conducted an interview with Michael Bernhardt, President & CEO of The Bernhardt Agency, Inc. Bernhardt is a well known strategic marketing and communications consultant who has been active in the HPC industry for 13 years, and a member of the SCxy Industry Advisory Committee. He also serves on a number of corporate and advisory boards for early-growth companies and works closely with several high-technology incubators and Venture Capital (VC) firms.

HPCwire: “What is your perspective on the current state of the HPC industry?”

BERNHARDT: First of all, I think this is a very exciting time in HPC. We’ve seen tremendous progress in applying HPC technologies to vital and important scientific issues in the areas of bioinformatics, life sciences, and weather forecasting, and real-world business applications such as financial, telecommunication, automotive, entertainment, and pharmaceuticals.

We’ve also seen good progress in transferring technology from the government agencies and research institutions to the commercial computing marketplace, resulting in companies like Ford Motor, Charles Schwab, Bristol-Myers, Procter & Gamble, American Express and others using HPC platforms for data mining, data warehousing, and e-business. Many of these companies simply couldn’t be competitive without the use of High Performance Computers.

But, to really appreciate where we are, you have to take a look at where we’ve come from. Just 10 years ago, at SC90 (back then I think it was called Supercomputing ’90) in New York City, Paul Messina led this industry into a new chapter with the formation of the Concurrent Supercomputing Consortium. It was a milestone event for several reasons, but in my mind the public collaboration of so many competing agencies and academic institutions was truly a monumental achievement Over this past decade, companies have come and gone, technology shifts have occurred in both hardware and software, mergers and acquisitions created interesting bedfellows, and collaborations have never been stronger.

Just think about how the HPC landscape has changed. Ten years ago, the largest exhibitors at SC90 were Thinking Machines (TMC) and Alliant…

This year, the largest exhibitors are Compaq, IBM, SGI and SUN.

HPCwire wasn’t even around back then. The publication of record for the supercomputing industry in 1990 was Supercomputing Review, published only in hard copy.

In 1990, Teraflops was a dream…it was beyond the horizon for all of us. Today, we’ve hit that milestone, and are rapidly moving on to the next dream of Petaflops.

HPCwire: “You’re right. We’ve seen a lot of change in this industry. So, how important is the bragging rights to ‘World’s Fastest Computer’ these days?

BERNHARDT: Great question. I don’t think it’s all that important. Over the years, a number of companies have claimed the world’s fastest title, and many times it was based on theoretical peak performance, or theoretical systems that would never actually be built…not based on real machines running production codes. The real measure of leadership in this industry is in the use…or the application of the systems. The HPC industry is made up of a highly intelligent user community and it’s an industry that’s never been enamored with marketing hype. While “world’s fastest computer” has been somewhat of a holy grail for a number of companies, it has no correlation to the long term acceptance of the system, the technology, or the company. More important is where, when and how the systems get used for real-world applications. Most people don’t even remember who actually broke the TFLOPS barrier, at the time…the world’s fastest computer. That milestone was achieved with ASCI Red, an Intel supercomputer built at Sandia National Laboratories. The system was the first to achieve 1 TFLOPS. Using roughly 9,000 standard Intel Pentium Pro processors. I think the Sandia team hit 1.8 TFLOPS right around the time of Supercomputing ’96 and the machine was fully operational the following summer.

A successful vendor in the HPC industry does not need the top performance platform. They have to be competitive of course, but they also must have a product that meets a business need in the commercial market segment (these needs will be vertical market or application specific), and they must also put forth a marketing and sales effort much different from what’s been traditionally used in the HPC market segment.

HPCwire: “So, do you see a killer application on the horizon for the HPC industry?”

BERNHARDT: If you are referring to “killer App” as in the use or application of HPC systems that will be most noteworthy in the near future, I’d have to say it’s the bioinformatics applications for DNA sequencing, genome annotation and analyzing genetic data.

But in terms of the way we often refer to “killer apps”, I’m not sure I see this industry as having a killer application…not like we think of Lotus Notes or Excel…but perhaps a “killer tool” for the HPC industry would be more appropriate. The challenge is to harness the astonishing computing power of these new machines and architectures to achieve higher sustained performance. What’s required is continued advancements in compilers, debuggers and analysis tools that can optimize performance and speed up the application development process.

The exponential growth in companies using high performance computers for product simulation, research, business intelligence, communications, and a host of other applications has resulted in a pressing need for more sophisticated applications that run on multiple platforms and incorporate inordinately complex code. The development of those codes – in a timely and efficient manner – requires application development tools that are intuitive, flexible and adaptable. If you look at the recent surge in use of the TotalView debugger/analyzer and some of the other independent analysis tools and compilers, across all major HPC platforms, you see the proof point for this.

HPCwire: Are you saying that tools are playing a greater role?

BERNHARDT: I’m not sure I’d say tools are necessarily playing a greater role, but they are becoming more important. When you’re running an application across thousands of processors incorporating OpenMP or threads, you need a compiler optimized for the environment, and an analyzer than can locate and correct bugs, analyze load balancing and find bottlenecks in parallel applications.

When you start to use high performance computer systems to run mission or business critical applications like determining the activity, toxicity and absorption of a new drug, or running a massive online trading site, you can’t afford to have glitches in your software.

HPCwire: “It seems like everyone claims their computer is a “supercomputer”, regardless of the size. How would you classify “supercomputers?”

BERNHARDT: Supercomputers are a subset of High Performance Computers. I like the traditional definition of a supercomputer as any computer that is one of the largest, fastest, and most powerful available at a given time. Paul Messina, head of the ASCI program would narrow that down even more and say it’s “a computer that’s among the handful of the most powerful computers in the world for science and engineering.”

I still think of a supercomputer as “Big Iron”…a concentrated computing platform and environment that channels all its power into executing a few programs as fast as possible. Other than that, computers that go beyond the desktop with extremely high performance get lumped together as High Performance Computers.

HPCwire: “What about COTS technology? Is that the real future for HPC?”

BERNHARDT: Yes! This has been a goal for quite some time…the ability to put together a system using commodity hardware components that are clustered together with a common operating language.

And, there’s a good reason for this. To a certain extent, it’s difficult for companies to anticipate future needs. They don’t want to overbuy, yet they need enough computing power to solve their immediate and foreseeable needs. COTS technology enables them to buy what they need now and add on later, with a better assurance that the commodity components will not disappear. It also enables a much wider participation in software and application development.

HPCwire: “Do you see Linux and other open source software being used in more high performance systems?”

BERNHARDT: Absolutely. There’s been a trend towards open source software not so much because it’s less expensive, but because it fosters innovation. Because the code is readily available, product developers can concentrate on both creating unique solutions and freely enhancing the initial code. Linux offers a number of advantages and is now well established within the HPC community.

HPCwire: “Any final thoughts?”

BERNHARDT: The need for more computing cycles is insatiable…we’ll never have enough. The HPC industry will thrive because of this. And on top of that, this is an industry that challenges and pushes itself, an industry that sets monumental goals…an industry of “colleagues” that openly and willingly collaborate for the benefit of science and ultimately the benefit of all mankind. There’s never been a more important time for scientific and technical computing. The one thing that’s guaranteed is more change…and more progress.

Prior to establishing The BERNHARDT Agency in 1994, Mike BERNHARDT was a director for Intel’s Supercomputer Systems Division, with responsibility for strategic marketing communications including public relations, industry analyst relations, product collateral, trade show support, VIP events and user group activities. The BERNHARDT Agency was recently recognized by several independent marketing publications as one of the fastest growing high-technology marketing agencies in the country. BERNHARDT can be contacted at [email protected] .

============================================================

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!

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing components with Intel Xeon, AMD Epyc, IBM Power, and Arm server ch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SIA Recognizes Robert Dennard with 2019 Noyce Award

November 12, 2019

If you don’t know what Dennard Scaling is, the chances are strong you don’t labor in electronics. Robert Dennard, longtime IBM researcher, inventor of the DRAM and the fellow for whom Dennard Scaling was named, is th Read more…

By John Russell

Leveraging Exaflops Performance to Remediate Nuclear Waste

November 12, 2019

Nuclear waste storage sites are a subject of intense controversy and debate; nobody wants the radioactive remnants in their backyard. Now, a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, Pacific Northwest National University (PNNL Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using HPC and Machine Learning to Predict Traffic Congestion

November 12, 2019

Traffic congestion is a never-ending logic puzzle, dictated by commute patterns, but also by more stochastic accidents and similar disruptions. Traffic engineers struggle to model the traffic flow that occurs after accid Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Mira Supercomputer Enables Cancer Research Breakthrough

November 11, 2019

Dynamic partial-wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy allows researchers to observe intracellular structures as small as 20 nanometers – smaller than those visible by optical microscopes – in three dimensions at a mill Read more…

By Staff report

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quantum annealing) – ion trap technology is edging into the QC Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. Th Read more…

By Jan Rowell

MLPerf Releases First Inference Benchmark Results; Nvidia Touts its Showing

November 6, 2019

MLPerf.org, the young AI-benchmarking consortium, today issued the first round of results for its inference test suite. Among organizations with submissions wer Read more…

By John Russell

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed ins Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Launches Credit Card-Sized 21 TOPS Jetson System for Edge Devices

November 6, 2019

Nvidia has launched a new addition to its Jetson product line: a credit card-sized (70x45mm) form factor delivering up to 21 trillion operations/second (TOPS) o Read more…

By Doug Black

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Spending Spree: Hyperscalers Bought $57B of IT in 2018, $10B+ by Google – But Is Cloud on Horizon?

October 31, 2019

Hyperscalers are the masters of the IT universe, gravitational centers of increasing pull in the emerging age of data-driven compute and AI.  In the high-stake Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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