Shifting Alliances

By Michael Feldman

January 26, 2007

The big IT news this week is the blossoming romance between Sun and Intel. This new alliance will ripple through many parts of the industry, including HPC. If the Valentine on Jonathan Schwartz’s blog is any indication of things to come, this could be a real sweetheart deal for both organizations. But once the swooning is over, Sun and Intel will have to deliver in the marketplace.

There should be lots of opportunities to do so. As reported in our feature article this week, Sun and Intel have agreed to work together to build Xeon-based servers and enhance support of Solaris on Xeon platforms. Intel gets to sell chips into Sun boxes and expand its opportunities with the Solaris/Xeon platform. Sun gets to tap into Intel accounts, achieve an equal footing with the other chip-agnostic OEMs selling both Intel and AMD hardware, and also expand its opportunities with the Solaris/Xeon platform.

Perhaps one of the more interesting results from the alliance will be an eight socket Xeon server. Although the first Sun Xeon-based servers planned for 2007 will be one, two and four sockets, the intention is to eventually deliver an eight socket system. At that point, Sun would achieve parity with it current Opteron-based Sun Fire line-up. This won’t be as easy to accomplish with Intel’s front side bus technology as it was with AMD’s coherent HyperTransport technology, but scaling up systems is one of Sun’s recognized talents.

Intel seems genuinely excited to have Sun build such a machine, since none of the other Tier 1 OEMs have shown much interest. Presumably HP would not do it because an eight socket Xeon would bump into their higher end Integrity line based on the Itanium processor. IBM would also see a “Big Iron” Xeon platform as a threat to its mainframe offerings. And currently Dell has no aspirations to mainframe-level computing.

Intel itself has to maneuver carefully here. Its high-end Itanium processors are targeted for mission critical enterprise systems that require high performance, high reliability and high availability. But OEMs like Sun and Fabric7 are starting to build x86-based systems that aspire to these same capabilities. If users can’t make a clear distinction between scaled up 64-bit x86 SMP systems and Itanium systems, then Intel’s got a problem.

Sun has no such conflict. Being able to sell an eight socket Xeon system alongside the current Opteron counterpart — the Sun Fire X4600 — just expands options for Sun’s customers looking for scaled up SMP machines and fat node clusters based on x86 hardware. With the fat node model, the Tokyo Institute of Technology deployed 655 Sun Fire X4600 servers to create one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. An Intel version may be possible in the not-too-distant future.

The good news at Sun barely paused for a breath this week. On Tuesday, the company announced its first quarterly profits in more than a year, due mainly to strong Opteron server sales and increased uptake of Solaris. And if that wasn’t enough, the announcement of a $700 million equity investment by KKR Private Equity Investors reflected a solid endorsement from the investor community.

AMD Returns to Earth

Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was heading in the opposite direction. The Intel rival posted a $574 million loss in Q4 as a result of acquisition costs related to the ATI merger and dropping revenue on its x86 processor sales. The company actually sold more volume, but a “price war” with Intel narrowed margins significantly. The announcement of the Sun-Intel alliance completed a somber week for the folks at AMD.

A few IT analysts were already dumping on AMD for its poor financial performance, but if you remove the ATI merger expenses, the company would have netted a $63 million profit in Q4. The company’s real challenge is to regain the momentum on the processor front. The quad-core ‘Barcelona’ chip could give AMD a boost when it’s delivered in the second half of 2007. In the long run, AMD has to make the ATI merger work. One thing to look forward to is the upcoming Fusion processor, an architecture that will incorporate x86 and GPU cores on a single die. This would present an asymmetric challenge to Intel processors, and would also be resistant to x86 price warfare. The first Fusion implementation is planned for 2009.

Many-Core Startup

This week, an Israeli company, Plurality Ltd, announced that they’re developing a 64-core RISC (SPARC) processor. The evaluation hardware consists of a 16-core processor implemented on an FPGA chip; it comes with a software development kit that includes a compiler, simulator and debugger. The company claims that their Task Oriented Programming model enables developers to easily convert their applications to take advantage of the multi-core hardware. However, the company’s website states: “The only requirement from the programmer is to do a simple partitioning of the algorithm into tasks.” Of course. What could be easier?

The product appears to be targeted for high performance embedded apps such as communications, signal processing, HD video processing, robotics, medical imaging, automotive systems, etc. The 64-core commercial version is due out in the third quarter of this year, with a later version sporting 256 cores.

Wyoming Goes Super

The high plains of Wyoming might seem like an unlikely place for a supercomputing center, but this is just what the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has in mind. Boulder-based NCAR, along with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), is partnering with the University of Wyoming and the state government to build a new supercomputing center in Cheyenne.

The facility will provide hundreds of teraflops of capability, which will be devoted mostly to climate and weather modeling applications. Spare cycles will be used to perform options pricing on Dick Cheney’s stock portfolio once he retires to his home state of Wyoming in 2009. Just joking. I kid the Vice President.

—–

As always, comments about HPCwire are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Michael Feldman, 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!

Penguin Computing Brings Cascade Lake-AP to OCP Form Factor

July 7, 2020

Penguin Computing, a subsidiary of SMART Global Holdings, Inc., is announcing a new Tundra server, Tundra AP, that is the first to implement the Intel Xeon Scalable 9200 series processors (codenamed Cascade Lake-AP) in t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial research. Can you discuss key developments in recent years? Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center Offers a Virtual Tour of Its MareNostrum Supercomputer

July 6, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to threaten the world and disrupt normal operations, facility tours remain a little difficult to operate, with many supercomputing centers having shuttered facility tours for visitor Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance fam Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

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

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

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