PathScale Rises from SiCortex’s Ashes

By Michael Feldman

August 31, 2009

Late last week Cray announced it had acquired assets of PathScale’s compiler technology from defunct HPC cluster maker SiCortex. The assets include high-performance 64-bit C, C++ and Fortran compilers and related tools for Linux-based targets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Although Cray now owns the intellectual property, compiler specialist Netsyncro.com Inc. will get the exclusive license to develop the PathScale compiler suite going forward. Netsyncro.com, a company that incorporated in 2008, builds open source-based commercial development solutions, such as performance-optimized Java compilers. According to company CTO Christopher Bergström, a number of veteran PathScale engineers have been brought in-house and are now a part of a team that represents over 60 man-years of experience. PathScale founder Fred Chow, who is the engineering director for the revived company, will lead the development group.

With the new focus, the company will change its name to PathScale to match the compiler brand. Perhaps more significantly, PathScale will also be returning to its open source roots. The original technology, which was developed under the guidance of Chow, was derived from Open64, an open source compiler that traces its origins back to the SGI Pro64 Compiler. Under the new regime, PathScale will be placing large parts of the compiler suite’s code base into open source.

In exchange for restarting the PathScale technology, Cray gets support for the compiler as well as the option to leverage the technology for its own product set. Currently, the PathScale compiler is employed by some of Cray’s customers on its Opteron-based XT supercomputer line. The supercomputer maker actually is doing a couple of worthwhile things here. First, Cray is taking care of its own users, even though the PathScale technology has a somewhat limited customer base right now. (PGI is the primary compiler used on XT systems today.) More importantly, though, Cray is helping the larger HPC community by keeping the PathScale technology alive.

For the past couple of years, there have been only two compiler vendors supporting mainstream, x86-based HPC: PGI and Intel. Prior to that, PathScale was an independent vendor selling HPC compilers into the market. But in 2006, QLogic purchased PathScale, mainly to get access to its InfiniBand technology. In 2007, cluster startup SiCortex bought the PathScale compiler assets from QLogic in order to develop a full-featured compiler solution for the company’s MIPS processor-based machines.

Free of SiCortex, the PathScale compiler will once again target mainstream high performance computing. PathScale’s existing EKO compiler for the AMD Opteron has been in use since 2004 and is well regarded in the HPC community, especially in government and research labs. Now that the focus on MIPS is history, the in-house engineering team will shift its resources back to supporting commodity platforms. “Our target focus is definitely going to be HPC-x86,” says Bergström.

Presumably, the company will also provide support for the latest Intel Xeon platforms, but Bergström says that ultimately they would provide what their customers ask for. Further out, they’re planning to increase optimization for OpenMP and build more performance and profiling tools around that technology.

When asked about GPU support in the compiler, Bergström appeared non-committal. He thinks PGI’s recent push into GPU compilation may distract them from their core focus on CPU performance. To him, the hard part is not generating the GPU code, but deciding which pieces of the application are worthwhile porting to the GPU. Right now, defining the areas of code to be offloaded from the CPU is being done via pragmas, inserted into the code by developers. “Someone has to come up with an efficient way to identify those areas,” says Bergström.

OS-wise, PathScale is committed to Linux for the foreseeable future. Although Window-based HPC is picking up vendor support — even at Cray in the CX1 platform — it doesn’t appear likely that a Windows target for PathScale in the offing. Bergström says the open source nature of the business model makes it a bad fit for the proprietary Windows platform. “There are a few companies that have Windows ports based off of Open64, but they’re violating the GPL [GNU General Public License] and not releasing the source,” he says.

The big question though is if PathScale 2.0, using an open source model, will be able to compete with the likes of Intel and PGI. Obviously Bergström thinks so. According to him, being able to tap into a broader community of developers is going to offer some real advantages to their business, including the ability to provide more fine-grained support. From the customer’s point of view, a small research project that needs an extra 5 percent performance from their application has a better chance to find help in the open source community than it probably would from a vendor. “When you have a thousand people all working on these little improvements, that will help us a lot more than trying to fund 20-40 engineers of our own,” he predicts.

Bergström intends to be proactive about building the open source developer community by recruiting compiler researchers in the academic world and by mentoring customers. It’s a model that has worked exceedingly well for other HPC code bases like Linux and Lustre. It has also turned out to be the preferred model for application developers who want to avoid the total responsibility of in-house development and the dependency of proprietary software.

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!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

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

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

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

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

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

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

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

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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