Penguin Adds HPC On-Demand Service

By Michael Feldman

August 12, 2009

Linux cluster maker Penguin Computing hopped on the HPC-in-a-cloud bandwagon this week with the announcement of its HPC on-demand service. Called Penguin On Demand (POD), the service consists of an HPC compute infrastructure whose capacity can be rented on a pay-as-you-go basis or through a monthly subscription.

As it exists today, the POD infrastructure consists of 1200 Xeon cores spread over a number of clusters at a single facility. Penguin offers a choice of GigE or DDR InfiniBand interconnects and the option to tap into NVIDIA Tesla GPU computing hardware. By cloud standards the number of cores is tiny. But since Penguin also sells systems for a living, it would be relatively easy for them to scale up the infrastructure rather quickly if customer demand warranted additional capacity.

According to Penguin, the on-demand facility has sufficient bandwidth to allow the transfer of reasonably large data files directly to POD over the Internet. The company also offer a “disk caddy” service that allows the transfer of 1 TB+ files overnight. The disks are provided as part of the service and are actually owned by the customer and are returned to them once the data has been transferred to POD storage.

The software stack consists of CentOS, a community-supported OS based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as the company’s Scyld ClusterWare cluster management software. “Scyld enables us to rapidly provision a set of compute nodes for our customers based on their demand — so we can scale up and scale down efficiently,” says Penguin Computing CEO Charles Wuischpard.

Penguin is aiming the POD at a variety of HPC verticals. According to Wuischpard, the initial interest came from the life sciences sector, but they have recently seen interest from a number of Fortune 500 manufacturing companies and some smaller hedge funds firms.

Users with in-house Penguin systems can get access to the POD service via the Scyld software suite. Since Scyld ClusterWare includes TORQUE and offers a scheduling package called TaskMaster, policies in the scheduling software can be set such that when a particular threshold is reached, jobs submitted on the local resource are automatically redirected to the POD system.

Unlike generic cloud computing set-ups like Amazon’s EC2, user applications run directly on the compute nodes without virtualization in order to maximize performance. “POD is geared strictly towards applications that thrive in an HPC environment and would otherwise be starved for performance on a virtualized cloud computing environment,” explains Wuischpard.

In that sense, it’s not really a cloud in the classic sense (if there is such a thing), but rather a dedicated infrastructure built for on-demand HPC. In fact, the model used by Penguin is the same as most HPC on-demand offerings, such as IBM’s Computing On Demand service and R Systems’ dedicated hosting service. Thus far, a virtualized purpose-built HPC cloud with elastic capacity has yet to appear.

At the hardware level, the biggest criticism of general-purpose clouds is that they lack low latency interconnects so important to tightly-coupled MPI applications. As pointed at recently by Ian Foster, for short running HPC applications this may not be much of an issue. But for codes expected to execute for hours, days, or even longer, fast server-to-server communication is all but mandatory. Since at least some of the POD hardware includes InfiniBand-equipped servers, the service offers this natural advantage.

Setting up a POD account requires some initial hand-holding with Penguin technical staff. They will help set up the compute environment, explain the account management features, and answer any questions. After that, the POD service can be accessed via SSH to run user applications directly. If a customer requires more assistance, Penguin techies are available (via their Customer Portal) to help with issues that might come up or to help users squeeze more performance from user codes.

According to Penguin, their on-demand service is priced to provide a significant improvement in price-performance for HPC applications when compared to running on traditional cloud computing offerings. (The implication is that you will pay more per CPU-hour than for, say, EC2, but better performance will more than offset the price premium.) “Users pay only for the core hours that they use,” says Wuischpard. “Monthly contracts are available, which provide for a reduction in the average cost per core hour. And yes, we do have the concept of ‘roll-over’ hours!”

At this point, Penguin is not offering SLAs or QoS guarantees in the general offering. But, according to Wuischpard, these could be implemented if a customer has such a requirement. He says they do guarantee that if a job fails because of a POD hardware failure, then it can be rerun at no cost.

From a business point of view, the OEM-as-cloud-provider will be an interesting model to follow. If margins continue to shrink on commodity-based clusters, selling compute on-demand services may offer a natural way to tap into new revenue streams. As pointed out by many cloud gazers, the largest compute utility today is essentially being run out of the back of a bookstore. Renting CPU cycles from a system vendor would seem at least as reasonable.

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!

And So It Begins…Again – The FY19 Exascale Budget Rollout (and things look good)

February 23, 2018

On February 12, 2018, the Trump administration submitted its Fiscal Year 2019 (FY-19) budget to Congress. The good news for the U.S. exascale program is that the numbers look very good and the support appears to be stron Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with partner Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Germany. The ser Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Start-up Aims AI at Automated Tuning of Complex Systems

February 22, 2018

Today’s bigger, more complex, connected and intelligent systems have an exponentially higher number of connections, dependencies, interfaces, protocols and processing architectures that, if not optimized, will hamstrin Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Experience Memory & Storage Solutions that will Transform Your Data Performance

High performance computing (HPC) has revolutionized the way we harness insight, leading to a dramatic increase in both the size and complexity of HPC systems. Read more…

Do Cryptocurrencies Have a Part to Play in HPC?

February 22, 2018

It’s easy to be distracted by news from the US, China, and now the EU on the state of various exascale projects, but behind the vinyl-wrapped cabinets and well-groomed sales execs are an army of Excel-wielding PMO and Read more…

By Chris Downing

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Start-up Aims AI at Automated Tuning of Complex Systems

February 22, 2018

Today’s bigger, more complex, connected and intelligent systems have an exponentially higher number of connections, dependencies, interfaces, protocols and pr Read more…

By Doug Black

HOKUSAI’s BigWaterfall Cluster Extends RIKEN’s Supercomputing Performance

February 21, 2018

RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution, recently expanded the capacity and capabilities of its HOKUSAI supercomputer, a key resource manage Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Neural Networking Shows Promise in Earthquake Monitoring

February 21, 2018

A team of Harvard University and MIT researchers report their new neural networking method for monitoring earthquakes is more accurate and orders of magnitude faster than traditional approaches. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a 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

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

SC17: Singularity Preps Version 3.0, Nears 1M Containers Served Daily

November 1, 2017

Just a few months ago about half a million jobs were being run daily using Singularity containers, the LBNL-founded container platform intended for HPC. That wa Read more…

By John Russell

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