HPC User Forum Wrap-Up

By John E. West

October 12, 2007

Industry research group IDC hosts five to six User Forum meetings around the world each year. About 100 people participated in the most recent meeting, representing government, industry and academia, as well as all the major HPC vendors. Each User Forum has a theme; this one focused on the use of HPC in the energy industry.

What follows is a subjective selection of highlights and topics of potential general interest from this meeting, which took place in Santa Fe, N.M. on Sept. 26-27.

The Keynote

The meeting keynote was delivered by Victor Reis, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary, Department of Energy. He has primary responsibility for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, part of President George W. Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative, and he is also a member Strategic Advisory Group of the U.S. Strategic Command. Reis was the Director, Defense Research and Engineering when the DoD’s High Performance Modernization Program started, and he was a senior official at DOE when it began the ASCI (Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative) program.

Reis reviewed the history of ASCI and what it has accomplished to date, and then discussed a potential new DOE program involving physics-based design of nuclear reactors for peaceful energy production. He feels that the timing is correct for instituting a new HPC program for this purpose and is gathering information to support such a program. He mentioned several potential modeling efforts that would contribute to the program, such as optimization of the nuclear reactor fuel cycle, design and qualification of new nuclear fuels, detailed modeling of new reactor designs, and environmental effects on nuclear reactors, particularly earthquakes. Several DOE talks followed which discussed modeling of fission reactors and the status of nuclear fusion research.

Energy-Related Discussions

The theme of this meeting was HPC in energy, so naturally there were several discussions of advanced energy research in addition to coverage in the keynote.

Keith Gray of BP discussed their seismic imaging research and development, which is designed to improve the information content of seismic images by processing with HPC capabilities. He specified several basic computational challenges and requirements: large-memory nodes for development work, easier parallel tools, effective use of emerging multicore systems, and bigger and better file systems.

Mark Nimlos of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discussed the status of various forms of alternative energy sources and concentrated on his work in the biofuels program, which has a goal of replacing 30 percent of current transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030. He is carrying out sophisticated molecular dynamics computations  of how one of the key enzymes breaks down cellulose into sugars, with the intent of understanding how to optimize the process.

Pratul Agarwal of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working in the same overall program, discussed the multiscale nature of biofuel processing and the need for collaborative efforts between experimental and computational work. His group is considering the use of new HPC technologies such as FPGAs and GPUs to accelerate the computation of the enzymatic pathways involved in the conversions of cellulose to sugars. He noted that the follow-on processing of sugars to alcohols (fermentation) was well understood, at least at the production level, because of the many thousands of years of experimentation by human beings in this process.

HPC Acquisition and Architectures

In addition to the domain-focused fare there were also several discussions of recent HPC acquisitions and new HPC architectures.

Rupak Biswas of NASA-Ames discussed their Columbia system and efforts underway to procure a replacement for it. He provided information on NASA’s HPC requirements as part of the discussion, highlighting growth of those requirements across several NASA directorates.

Richard Walsh of IDC, and formerly of the Army High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC), provided his taxonomy of processor architectures and applications, stating that there were significant drivers toward heterogeneous processors in the near future.

John Daly of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) discussed issues of running applications at large scale, including how to handle interrupts and how often to write out checkpoint/restart files. He showed data that indicated that even small jobs on really big systems might be at significant risk of an interrupt because of the dependence of mean-time-between-application-interrupt on numbers of job processors; instead of a linear dependence, the low-number-of-processor behavior of this interrupt time is considerably less than linear. This leads to alternative scheduling policies that emphasize large-number-of-processor jobs at the expense of long running times.

John Gustafson of ClearSpeed Technology provided some impressive speed-ups on a variety of application codes with their accelerator technology and also presented a rule of thumb estimate of current HPC system power per volume. According to him, this turns out to be about 70 watts per liter.

Finally, your very own John West gave a talk discussing what HPC systems will look like approximately ten years in the future. After talking to multiple industry sources, I envision a multicore future with general-purpose HPC systems of the 2017 era comprised of chips containing hundreds of computational cores per chip (not thousands), among other interesting features. This presentation was, of course, fascinating.

University Panel

One of the panels at the forum involved representatives from several universities involved in HPC and university-affiliated computer centers: Penn State, Ohio Supercomputer Center, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, San Diego Supercomputer Center, the University of Minnesota, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, the University of Tennessee, Utah State University, and Virginia Tech.

There was extensive discussion of the role of university computing centers versus NSF national computing centers. As expected, the university computing centers would like NSF support for their niche in the overall structure. Many of these universities offer unique degree programs in computational science. One suggestion arising from the discussion was to develop a partnership among the federal agencies (NSF, DoD and DOE) to promote and support these educational programs in computational science.

Data Intensive Computing Environment (DICE)

Roger Panton of Avetech, the executive director of the Data Intensive Computing Environment (DICE) program, provided the history and status of that program. DICE was motivated by the HEC/RTF report of several years ago and is a partnership among DoD, NASA and DOE. The goal of the program is to set up a testbed to evaluate data management technologies that could improve data accessibility over geographically distributed sites. Current organization partners include Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC), Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), NASA-Goddard, and Avetech; the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) participates through ASC. New sites will include the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Roger discussed future partners and projects.

The next two U.S. meetings of the HPC User Forum are scheduled for April 14-16, 2008 in Norfolk, Va., and Sept. 8-10, 2008 in Tucson, Ariz. You can find out more about these events by clicking over to http://hpcuserforum.com.

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!

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurr Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia CEO Predicts AI ‘Cambrian Explosion’

May 25, 2017

The processing power and cloud access to developer tools used to train machine-learning models are making artificial intelligence ubiquitous across computing pl Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of "quantum supremacy," researchers are stretching the limits of today's most advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" process Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This