New Cray OS Brings ISVs in for a Soft Landing

By Michael Feldman

April 14, 2010

Cray has never made a big deal about the custom Linux operating system it packages with its XT supercomputing line. In general, companies don’t like to tout proprietary OS environments since they tend to lock custom codes in and third-party ISV applications out. But the third generation Cray Linux Environment (CLE3) that the company announced on Wednesday is designed to make elite supercomputing an ISV-friendly experience.

Besides adding compatibility to off-the-shelf ISV codes, which we’ll get to in a moment, the newly-minted Cray OS contains a number of other enhancements. In the performance realm, CLE3 increases overall scalability to greater than 500,000 cores (up from 200,000 in CLE2), adds Lustre 1.8 support, and includes some advanced scheduler features. Cray also added a feature called “core specialization,” which allows the user to pin a single core on the node to the OS and devote the remainder to application code. According to Cray, on some types of codes, this can bump performance 10 to 20 percent. CLE3 also brings with it some additional reliability features, including NodeKARE, a diagnostic capability that makes sure jobs are running on healthy nodes.

But the biggest new feature added to CLE3 is compatibility with standard HPC codes from independent software vendors (ISVs). This new capability has the potential to open up a much broader market for Cray’s flagship XT product line, and further blur the line between proprietary supercomputers and traditional HPC clusters.

Cray has had an on-again off-again relationship with HPC software vendors. Many of the established ISVs in this space grew up alongside Cray Research, and software from companies like CEI, LSTC, SIMULIA, and CD-adapco actually ran on the original Cray Research machines. Over time, these vendors migrated to standard x86 Linux and Windows systems, which became their prime platforms, and dropped products that required customized solutions for supercomputers. Cray left most of the commercial ISVs behind as it focused on high-end HPC and custom applications.

But a couple of years ago, Cray decided it was going to bring the ISVs back into its top-of-the-line supers. The company already had the major pieces in place — an x86 platform in the Opteron-based XT architecture and a SUSE Linux-based OS in CLE. The pieces didn’t quite fit because Cray used an MPI implementation targeted to its proprietary SeaStar system interconnect, while the ISVs employ MPI libraries built atop a standard communication protocol — either TCP/IP or the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED). The only way commercial software (or any software for that matter) would run on an XT machine was by compiling the application code with the Cray libraries. In fact, CD-adapco and LSTC went to the trouble of doing exactly that and ported some of their codes to run on Cray supercomputers. In general, though, ISVs would rather not be bothered to maintain and support multiple distributions of their software for low-volume platforms.

In Cray’s new Linux distribution, Cray has added a TCP/IP layer on top of its SeaStar library to form a bridge to standard Linux codes. That means vanilla ISV applications should literally work out of the box, assuming the software licensing is set up properly. According to Barry Bolding, vice president of Cray’s Scalable Systems division, they have been busy testing codes from all the major vendors — ANSYS, The MathWorks, SIMULIA, CEI, CD-adapco, LSTC, Metacomp Technologies, Accelrys — and have yet to uncover incompatibilities. He says from the application’s point of view, the Cray system software environment now looks like any standard x86 Linux cluster.

Access to the TCP/IP interface is only available in what Cray calls “Cluster Compatibility Mode” (CCM), which represents the ISV-friendly part of CLE3. The default environment is Cray’s “standard” runtime, which they now refer to as “Extreme Scalability Mode.” The idea is that as ISV-derived jobs are queued up for execution, the appropriate nodes are loaded with CCM, and then subsequently reprovisioned with ESM after the application completes. The OS footprint for the two modes is nearly identical, with the CCM version about 45 MB larger than its ESM sibling.

In the initial version of CLE3, the size of a CCM job is limited to 2,048 cores. Bolding says that’s because they don’t think they’ll be able to achieve any more scalability than that with the TCP/IP implementation. Of course, multiple CCM apps could be running simultaneously. So, for example, an Abaqus CAE job could be running on 100 nodes, a CEI EnSight one on another 50, MATLAB on 20 more, and so on.

Bolding claims that the performance they’ve achieved from TCP/IP on top of SeaStar is close to what you could get out of an InfiniBand-based cluster. The upcoming “Baker” system will incorporate the faster “Gemini” interconnect, so they expect a significant performance gain just from the new hardware. In addition, next year Cray plans to offer an OFED communication stack on top of its interconnect, which should boost performance even further. Bolding is confident the Gemini-OFED combo will outrun InfiniBand in any benchmark.

With the initial CLE3 release, the company can now target customers who need the XT for their own scalable custom codes, but who wouldn’t have purchased a system because they wanted to run ISV codes in tandem. How big of a market that represents is anyone’s guess, but Cray will soon find out. Next year, with the optimized Gemini/OFED communication, the company can sell Bakers to customers that only have ISV apps to run, but can pay a premium for better performance.

CLE3 will be released on the various XT platforms in stages. The initial version will be included with the currently-shipping XT6 and XT6m machines, with plans to make it available for the XT5 and XT5m systems sometime later in the year. CLE3 will also be packaged with the Baker supers from the start. Those systems are expected to start shipping in the third quarter of 2010.

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!

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 cryptocurr 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

Nvidia CEO Predicts AI ‘Cambrian Explosion’

May 25, 2017

The processing power and cloud access to developer tools used to train machine-learning models are making artificial intelligence ubiquitous across computing pl Read more…

By George Leopold

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays 2017 Wraps Up in Barcelona

May 18, 2017

Barcelona has been absolutely lovely; the weather, the food, the people. I am, sadly, finishing my last day at PRACEdays 2017 with two sessions: an in-depth loo Read more…

By Kim McMahon

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

IBM PowerAI Tools Aim to Ease Deep Learning Data Prep, Shorten Training 

May 10, 2017

A new set of GPU-powered AI software announced by IBM today brings automation to many of the tedious, time consuming and complex aspects of AI project on-rampin Read more…

By Doug Black

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. Just how close real-wo 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 cam Read more…

By John Russell

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 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

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 ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

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 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 w 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 Read more…

By Steve Campbell

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 Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 Read more…

By John Russell

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, 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 networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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