Top 10 Hits and Misses for 2008

By Michael Feldman

December 19, 2008

Petaflops supercomputing dominated much of the HPC news in 2008, but the year also witnessed the rise of GPU-accelerated computing and the fall of Linux Networx.

Hit: Parallel Programming Put on the Front Burner.

For the first time, big-name vendors and academic institutions got behind a concerted parallel programming R&D effort with the establishment of two Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers. Intel, Microsoft, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) teamed up to figure out how to push multicore/manycore programming into the mainstream. The vendors have chipped in with $20 million, and an additional $8 million will come from UIUC. UC Berkeley has applied for $7 million from the state. Not exactly the Manhattan Project, but a good start.

Miss: Linux Networx Goes Belly Up

In February, the assets of Linux Networx were acquired by one-time rival, SGI. For some extra irony, SGI is now led by former Linux Networx CEO Bo Ewald. The once high-flying HPC cluster maker succumbed to an increasingly competitive marketplace and a customer procurement model that leaves little room for error. RIP LNXI.

Miss: U.S. Science Funding Hits a Political Wall

Partisan politics once again sabotaged U.S. science and technology research funding in 2008. As I wrote in February: “Despite bipartisan consensus to support the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), which was designed to double federal funding for science education and research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy Office (DOE) of Science over the next seven years, the amounts allocated in the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill fell woefully short. The ACI agenda, most of which was turned into law in the 2007 COMPETES Act, was essentially ignored when it came time to dole out the money for 2008.” The good news is that the incoming administration and Congress promises to be more science-friendly, although FY09 funding probably won’t arrive until March.

Hit: Cray Puts Intel Inside

In April, Cray, the iconic supercomputer maker, and Intel, the iconic chipmaker, exchanged marriage vows to collaborate on research and product lines. The first born of the new relationship — the CX1 “personal supercomputer” — was unveiled in September. Considering AMD’s eroding competitive position at the high end of the market and Intel’s manycore aspirations, it was a logical move for both companies, but especially Cray.

Hit: The Petaflops Era Begins

In June, IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory installed Roadrunner, the world’s first general-purpose petaflop supercomputer, that is, if you can call doing nuclear weapons simulations general-purpose. Just five months later, Cray and Oak Ridge National Lab deployed the second petaflop super. Both systems used AMD Opteron parts, but the IBM machine relied on Cell processors for the vast majority of its FLOPS.

Hit: GPU Computing Builds Its Case

With teraflop-level GPUs equipped with double precision smarts from NVIDIA and AMD hitting the streets this year, graphics chips are on track to become the commodity vector processor for the masses. Not a lot of deployment yet, but GPU-accelerated personal supers, GPU compilers, the continued penetration of CUDA, and the ratification of the OpenCL standard are rapidly filling out the GPGPU ecosystem. Intel, as always, remains skeptical.

Miss: SGI: Same as It Ever Was

For a company that can never seem to make ends meet, SGI made a lot of news in 2008. While the company was busy reconstructing its visual computing business, extending its partnership with NASA, and building the third fastest supercomputer in the world, its balance sheet remained stubbornly in the red. Last week, SGI jettisoned 15 percent of its employees. As I suggested this week, 2009 could be a make or break year for the company.

Hit: Personal Supercomputing Redux

Speaking of personal supers, Cray was just one of many vendors that re-introduced office-friendly HPC in 2008. The main crop of these deskside systems are being accelerated by NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, and came from the likes of Dell, Microway, Penguin Computing, Colfax, BOXX, Lenova, Velocity Micro, ASUS and others. Even Cray’s CX1 can now be equipped with Tesla gear. The jury is still out on the long-term prospects for personal supers, but if R&D types can put a few useful teraflops next to their desks, that’s a potential game-changer for the industry.

Miss: Quantitative Financial Models Tank

The financial meltdown of 2008 revealed some startling weaknesses in the quant models and how the community was (mis)using them. Bad management is relatively easy to uncover, especially in hindsight, but the extent to which bad algorithms helped bring down the economy may never be known.

Hit: Startups Defy Economic Gravity

Even with the economy in a nose-dive throughout 2008, new HPC companies continued to pop up. Some of the most interesting ones we covered include: Convey Computer (turnkey reconfigurable computing), Nimbus Services (HPC services), Arista Networks (high performance 10 GigE switches), and Darkstrand (service provider for National LambdaRail network). Can’t wait to see what 2009 brings.

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!

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 13), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue’s max capacity and doubling 2016 attendee numbers), the one Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Machine Learning at HPC User Forum: Drilling into Specific Use Cases

September 22, 2017

The 66th HPC User Forum held September 5-7, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the elegant and historic Pfister Hotel, highlighting the 1893 Victorian décor and art of “The Grand Hotel Of The West,” contrasted nicely with Read more…

By Arno Kolster

Google Cloud Makes Good on Promise to Add Nvidia P100 GPUs

September 21, 2017

Google has taken down the notice on its cloud platform website that says Nvidia Tesla P100s are “coming soon.” That's because the search giant has announced the beta launch of the high-end P100 Nvidia Tesla GPUs on t Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Prepares Customers for Success with the HPC Software Portfolio

High performance computing (HPC) software is key to harnessing the full power of HPC environments. Development and management tools enable IT departments to streamline installation and maintenance of their systems as well as create, optimize, and run their HPC applications. Read more…

Cray Wins $48M Supercomputer Contract from KISTI

September 21, 2017

It was a good day for Cray which won a $48 million contract from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) for a 128-rack CS500 cluster supercomputer. The new system, equipped with Intel Xeon Scal Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 13), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Machine Learning at HPC User Forum: Drilling into Specific Use Cases

September 22, 2017

The 66th HPC User Forum held September 5-7, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the elegant and historic Pfister Hotel, highlighting the 1893 Victorian décor and art o Read more…

By Arno Kolster

Stanford University and UberCloud Achieve Breakthrough in Living Heart Simulations

September 21, 2017

Cardiac arrhythmia can be an undesirable and potentially lethal side effect of drugs. During this condition, the electrical activity of the heart turns chaotic, Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud, and Francisco Sahli, Stanford University

PNNL’s Center for Advanced Tech Evaluation Seeks Wider HPC Community Ties

September 21, 2017

Two years ago the Department of Energy established the Center for Advanced Technology Evaluation (CENATE) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). CENAT Read more…

By John Russell

Exascale Computing Project Names Doug Kothe as Director

September 20, 2017

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) has named Doug Kothe as its new director effective October 1. He replaces Paul Messina, who is stepping down after two years to return to Argonne National Laboratory. Kothe is a 32-year veteran of DOE’s National Laboratory System. Read more…

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blu Read more…

By Merle Giles

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

September 15, 2017

On Friday, Sept. 8, Kathy Yelick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address on “Breakthrough Science at the Exascale” at the ACM Europe Conference in Barcelona. In conjunction with her presentation, Yelick agreed to a short Q&A discussion with HPCwire. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Pledges Another $300 Million for Post-Moore’s Readiness

September 14, 2017

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a giant funding effort to ensure the United States can sustain the pace of electronic innovation vital to both a flourishing economy and a secure military. Under the banner of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), some $500-$800 million will be invested in post-Moore’s Law technologies. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces 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

Leading Solution Providers

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

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 cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. 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

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries: 7nm Chips Coming in 2018, EUV in 2019

June 13, 2017

GlobalFoundries has formally announced that its 7nm technology is ready for customer engagement with product tape outs expected for the first half of 2018. The Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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