The Week in Review

By John E. West

March 14, 2008

Here’s a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week’s HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com and HPCwire.

>>10 words and a link

AMD ships B3 Opterons, TLB fixed and frequency stepped up;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/12/amd-ships-patched-opterons/

First Appro and Renault F1, now Red Bull F1;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/07/red-bull-formula1-team-on-its-hpc-infrastructure/

AMD’s coding competitions;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/10/write-code-earn-cash-and-prizes/

OpenFabrics Alliance announces official release of OFED 1.3;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/11/openfabrics-alliance-announces-ofed-13/

MS HPC Server 2008 tech preview out;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/12/hpc-server-2008-tech-preview-out/

Hosted app solution helps with thermal modeling of datacenter;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/12/new-app-helps-with-thermal-modeling-of-datacenters/

MapReduce from 50,000 feet: the minimum you should know;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/03/13/a-bit-about-mapreduce/

>>Intel briefing visualization future

Ashlee Vance has been spending time in Intel’s headquarters, being offered lots of Kool-Aid. The latest flavor is visualization. (http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/03/06/intel_visualization/):

A product code-named Larrabee sits at the heart of Intel’s visualization push. Intel refuses to say much about the part other than to describe it as a “many-core,” re-programmable processor that will work as an x86-based standalone graphics product. In addition, Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini, speaking to investors, said Larrabee will include a new vector processing unit and a new vector instruction set.

…If you’re SGI, Intel’s new attention to the visualization market is both sad and encouraging.

I think SGI should definitely be concerned about competition from Intel’s deep pockets. That said, I’m not at all convinced there is still a business in visualization hardware that’s so differentiated from the advancements needed to support gaming that it deserves its own hardware.

I think there are still significant challenges in visualization that need to be addressed, but many of these require new approaches and smarter algorithms, not more hardware (for example, even if you had enough hardware to visualize the nodes in a 10 billion node mesh, you can’t process that much data visually).

>>FY09 House budget actions

Melissa Norr has a post at the CRA’s excellent Policy Blog summarizing action by the House Budget Committee to pass the 09 budget resolution and reaffirm the importance of S&T funding (http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog/archives/000663.html):

The budget resolution provides a large pot of money for the accounts that fund science agencies, including an additional $379 million above the President’s request for the account that funds NSF. The Sense of the House resolution, a non-binding resolution, says that it is important to fully fund the America COMPETES Act. While this is a good sign of support for science, it’s only the first step that Congress must take to realize these increases as part of the FY 09 appropriations process.

>>HPC sales drove 2007 server sales growth

A post at Sun’s HPC Watercooler got me looking for an IT Jungle piece analyzing some of the recent IDC numbers on the industry (http://www.itjungle.com/tlb/tlb031108-story02.html). Attention grabber for us HPC guys:

…Those numbers tell you two things. First, the HPC market accounted for 21.3 percent of all server sales last year, and that the HPC slice of the server space grew in excess of four times as fast as the overall server space. …Basically, if you take HPC server sales out of the equation, then general purpose server sales were essentially flat in 2007.

The article covers some of IDC’s new schema for segmenting the HPC market, adoption of which accounts for much of the new growth. It’s an interesting read and I recommend you at least skim the whole thing.

Wondering about why the slowing economy didn’t ding HPC sales last year? You might not put away your pork and beans yet:

“There was no discernible evidence of the general economic slowdown reflected in 2007 HPC system sales,” explains Steve Conway, IDC’s research vice president for high performance computing. “Several factors likely helped insulate the HPC market: the length of HPC budgeting cycles, the global nature of the HPC market, HPC’s relatively small presence in the financial sector, and HPC’s essential role in government, academic research, and industry. IDC will closely monitor 2008 quarterly revenue data for any evidence of economic impact.”

None of those factors is insulated from anything more than a short term decline in the economy, especially if the government decides to go on a(nother) spending spree to prop it up.

—–

John West is part of the team that summarizes the headlines in HPC news every day at insideHPC.com. You can contact him at [email protected].

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