Michael Dell Talks HPC

By Michael Feldman

November 18, 2008

Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell delivered the keynote address at the Supercomputing conference this morning in Austin, Texas, offering his perspective on where high performance computing is headed. We caught up with Dell shortly before the conference to get a preview of the keynote and to ask him about some of the hot-button issues that are driving the HPC industry today.

HPCwire: We’re almost certainly going to be in a recession in the U.S. and perhaps much of the world for the immediate future. How do you think that changes the HPC market? Or does it?

Michael DellMichael Dell: You’ll likely see an impact on funding. The global economic challenge is affecting every sector of society and business. It will place an even greater premium on productivity and efficiency — doing more with less. The democratization of supercomputing might even be accelerated as researchers and scientists take advantage of standards-based platforms to share compute capacity.

It’s likely we will see some consolidation in the IT sector — so decisions being made today need to be considered carefully. Dell is well positioned — with $9 billion in the bank — to provide needed stability here.

We can’t forget that supercomputing drives our competitiveness. Without it our economies don’t grow and some of the world’s most pressing challenges won’t get solved. Problems like advancing fusion power for more affordable and accessible energy and developing nanofiltration techniques that remove pollutants from water. Today, just one in six people worldwide has access to clean water. We must continue to invest in supercomputing capacity.

HPCwire: After more than 20 years, high-performance computing is certainly an established market. Yet the conventional wisdom is that a lot of demand goes unserved. What do you think has been holding back more users from tapping into HPC?

Dell: For too long, supercomputing was about proprietary technology. As a result, it was also about high cost.

And there were those who wanted to maintain an air of exclusivity. You can trace that back to the days of specialized processors and proprietary operating systems like Illiac IV and Cray 1. Things got a little better in the 1980s and 1990s.

But the real changes have come in the past decade during which the supercomputing community has really embraced open-source and standards. That’s clear when you look at what’s happened on the TOP500.

It’s rewarding to see that play out in broader access. You now have far more engineers, scientists and researchers worldwide focused on solving society’s biggest problems, which are also computational challenges.

HPCwire: What developments and technologies are going to drive this next wave of HPC?

Dell: There’s a lot going on beyond IT that’s making an impact. That includes factors like the economy, growing demand for commercial cloud computing in developed and emerging countries, and technology-industry consolidation. The growing influence of gaming technology and the public-private partnerships in the HPC space also are playing a role.

With regard to technology, you will see demand for even higher-density, more energy-efficient servers. I just saw a compelling figure on this – in 2003, a 1,260 node cluster with three GigaHertz processors sustained just under 10 teraflops. Today, we can get to just under 11 teraflops with 155 servers and 2.6 GigaHertz. That’s a really incredible trend, and it will continue.

Processors will continue to increase in speed and power at rapid rates, extending beyond servers to workstations. This week we’ll announce that we’re offering a Precision workstation that delivers a full Tflop of processing power.

The fourth wave is about standardization moving throughout the HPC ecosystem, into networking, storage, interconnects, tools and middleware. Dell is — literally — the platform for this movement — the center of the datacenter. So we play a unique role in working with our broad base of partners to drive standards throughout the stack.

HPCwire: With the drive toward hardware commoditization and system software standardization, what kinds of things can cluster vendors do to differentiate their products these days?

Dell: Sure, we want to drive standards and make IT simpler for the HPC community, but that starts with a clear understanding that what they do — and that their IT needs — are inherently complex.

We know that standards aren’t solutions in and of themselves. For HPC, it’s about standards combined with customization, and services that span the high-performance computing ecosystem. While traditional HPC customers like large universities might require heavy customization, a smaller customer might prefer to buy a bundle online. Those customers can use Dell’s online configuration tool to architect and purchase their cluster.

At the system level, an example is what we’re doing with AMD’s new Shanghai processor, taking chip-level performance and increasing it with Dual HT link designs. We’re doubling the available bandwidth between two processors for up to 12 percent better performance.

HPCwire: How concerned are customers, especially HPC customers, about energy-efficient computing?

Very. Supercomputing customers have always been focused on energy-efficiency. This manifests itself in two ways. First, ensuring the systems they are buying are the most efficient — and we are proud to lead here with what are the greenest products in the industry. Today, our servers use about 25 percent less power than four years ago. Second, we’re working with customers to tune systems to their unique workloads and environment. These highly-tuned and customized systems are at the heart of many of the large cloud infrastructures being built.

HPCwire: Cloud-based services seem to be getting traction in the broader enterprise market. How do you think cloud computing will play out in the HPC segment?

You’ll see more clouds in the high-performance computing space, without a doubt, but HPC customers will continue to have distinct needs.

We’ve actually created a special division for this. Our Data Center Solutions group’s sole focus is to tailor solutions for hyperscale-cloud environments. The goal is to work with customers to customize architectures based on exactly what they need, and nothing they don’t.

The DCS team has taken a lot of our HPC know-how to developing and deploying commercial cloud platforms, including Microsoft’s Windows Azure, Facebook, and Salesforce.com. Without a doubt, our work with HPC has taught us a great deal and helped position us for success in the commercial cloud.

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!

TACC Helps ROSIE Bioscience Gateway Expand its Impact

April 26, 2017

Biomolecule structure prediction has long been challenging not least because the relevant software and workflows often require high-end HPC systems that many bioscience researchers lack easy access to. Read more…

By John Russell

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, Nvidia, Stone Ridge Claim Gas & Oil Simulation Record

April 25, 2017

IBM, Nvidia, and Stone Ridge Technology today reported setting the performance record for a “billion cell” oil and gas reservoir simulation. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Remote Visualization Optimizing Life Sciences Operations and Care Delivery

As patients continually demand a better quality of care and increasingly complex workloads challenge healthcare organizations to innovate, investing in the right technologies is key to ensuring growth and success. Read more…

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Musk’s Latest Startup Eyes Brain-Computer Links

April 21, 2017

Elon Musk, the auto and space entrepreneur and severe critic of artificial intelligence, is forming a new venture that reportedly will seek to develop an interface between the human brain and computers. Read more…

By George Leopold

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 Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Hyperion (IDC) Paints a Bullish Picture of HPC Future

April 20, 2017

Hyperion Research – formerly IDC’s HPC group – yesterday painted a fascinating and complicated portrait of the HPC community’s health and prospects at the HPC User Forum held in Albuquerque, NM. HPC sales are up and growing ($22 billion, all HPC segments, 2016). Read more…

By John Russell

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" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN openlab Explores New CPU/FPGA Processing Solutions

April 14, 2017

Through a CERN openlab project known as the ‘High-Throughput Computing Collaboration,’ researchers are investigating the use of various Intel technologies in data filtering and data acquisition systems. Read more…

By Linda Barney

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 advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 phase of neural networks (NN). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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. 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 campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

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 assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

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 new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

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 will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” 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 was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

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 the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. 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 network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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