What Caught My Attention at SC08

By Michael Feldman

November 21, 2008

A show the size of the Supercomputing Conference is difficult to swallow whole. With hundreds of exhibitors and conference activities, it’s virtually impossible to get a balanced perspective. Despite being here for a full week, I’m sure I’ll come away feeling I missed most of the conference. That said, here are a few areas that caught my attention at SC08.

The most compelling “big iron” story of the conference was the new “Jaguar” Cray XT at Oak Ridge. The 1.64 (peak) petaflop machine is now the largest general-purpose supercomputer in the world. Although ORNL missed the Linpack submission to beat out Roadrunner for the number one spot on the TOP500, a real live application that executed on Jaguar captured this year’s Gordon Bell Prize for peak performance. The winning submission was from a team of ORNL researchers that achieved 1.35 petaflops with a simulation of superconductors. Our Q&A with Doug Kothe gives you some idea of the applications that lie ahead for the machine.

At the other end of the scale were the plethora of personal supercomputers being exhibited at SC08. Leading that charge was NVIDIA, who managed to line up all vendors, great and small, and convinced them to incorporate multiple Tesla C1060 GPU accelerator cards into desktop and deskside machines. Tesla-equipped personal systems will soon be offered by Dell, Lenovo, BOXX, Velocity Micro, Penguin Computing, ASUS and a handful of others. In 2009 you’ll be able to buy  a 4 (single precision) teraflop workstation for around $10K. Moving a little further up the food chain, Cray will also be offering Tesla-accelerated machines in their new deskside CX1 system.

A GPGPU software ecosystem is rapidly developing to unleash all this GPU goodness. Although CUDA, and Brook+ are available now for GPU programming, other GPU-enabling software is starting to appear. OpenCL, a hardware agnostic low-level interface for GPU computing, should become available by early 2009, with vendor implementations to follow. If you want to dig a little deeper into OpenCL, check out Friday’s article by RapidMind’s Michael McCool.

Even better news is that higher level GPU-friendly software development environments are starting to appear. While RapidMind has had this level of support for a couple of years, French-based CAPS enterprise now offers a C and Fortran development environment for NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. Newcomer AccelerEyes has developed Jacket, a GPU engine for MATLAB that wraps CUDA (for GPU computing) and OpenGL (for visualization) into an extension of the MATLAB language. Along those same lines, Wolfram Research demonstrated a CUDA-accelerated version of Mathematica to tap into NVIDIA GPUs. Finally, PGI announced it has teamed with AMD to develop compiler technology that will generate GPU code from standard C and Fortran. The first version will target AMD’s FireStream hardware, but presumably PGI is also thinking hard about an NVIDIA Tesla implementation*.

Extracting parallelism from vanilla C and Fortran code is also the model that startup Convey Computer is employing for its CPU-FPGA hybrid server — a product I wrote about on Monday. The Convey offering is the brainchild of HPC veteran (and this year’s Seymour Cray Award winner) Steve Wallach, and is packed with cleverness from top to bottom. Gauging by the booth traffic at the company’s booth, the Convey launch garnered quite a bit of interest from conference attendees. If I were in product development at Convey, I’d consider adding a deskside model for software developers.

Outside of accelerator-land, the most widely talked about processor at SC08 — the Intel Nehalem — never actually made a public appearance at the show. These chips are presumably in production right now and the 2P server versions should start showing up as early as Q1 2009. The 4P Nehalems are expected later in the year — maybe much later. Since the Xeons now dominate the HPC market (even in the TOP500), every server and workstation HPC vendor will probably be scrambling to get new Nehalem-based boxes to market as quickly as possible.

NAND flash memory and the associated Solid State Disk (SSD) products seemed much more visible at SC08 compared to years past. Increased NAND density and performance, along with dropping prices, are making NAND memory a very attractive storage layer between main DRAM and magnetic disks. On the show floor, Texas Memory Systems, Solid Access Technologies, Violin Memory, BiTMICRO Networks, and Fusion-io all had a slightly different stories to tell about their offerings. And while I’m not yet conversant in NAND technology, in talking with Fusion-io CTO David Flynn it became apparent that using these devices just as turbo-charged disks is probably not the way to go. I plan to follow this space more closely in 2009 as more products come to market.

[*UPDATE — Nov. 24. — PGI is already in the process of developing an NVIDIA Tesla implementation and was demonstrating a pre-release version in their booth at SC08.]

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!

Pfizer HPC Engineer Aims to Automate Software Stack Testing

January 17, 2019

Seeking to reign in the tediousness of manual software testing, Pfizer HPC Engineer Shahzeb Siddiqui is developing an open source software tool called buildtest, aimed at automating software stack testing by providing the community with a central repository of tests for common HPC apps and the ability to automate execution of testing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Senegal Prepares to Take Delivery of Atos Supercomputer

January 16, 2019

In just a few months time, Senegal will be operating the second largest HPC system in sub-Saharan Africa. The Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mary Teuw Niane made the announcement on Monday (Jan. 14 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three big public cloud vendors has by turn touted the latest and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Resource Management in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

New challenges demand fresh approaches

Fueled by GPUs, big data, and rapid advances in software, the AI revolution is upon us. Read more…

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchmark or suite of benchmarking tools to compare the performanc Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchm Read more…

By John Russell

A Big Data Journey While Seeking to Catalog our Universe

January 16, 2019

It turns out, astronomers have lots of photos of the sky but seek knowledge about what the photos mean. Sound familiar? Big data problems are often characterize Read more…

By James Reinders

Intel Bets Big on 2-Track Quantum Strategy

January 15, 2019

Quantum computing has lived so long in the future it’s taken on a futuristic life of its own, with a Gartner-style hype cycle that includes triggers of innovation, inflated expectations and – though a useful quantum system is still years away – anticipatory troughs of disillusionment. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

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