Digipede Sticks to Its Grid Computing Roots

By Michael Feldman

July 1, 2010

Grid computing vendor Digipede is something of an enigma in the HPC world. The company has built its distributed computing offering, Digipede Network, atop the highly popular Windows/.NET platform, and in the process has become an unrepentant Microsoft booster. For traditional HPC users, anything not Linux plus MPI or OpenMP is mostly looked upon as an eccentricity, and in some corners, partnering up with Microsoft is seen as treason.

Even though Digipede hasn’t embraced the HPC community’s open source cultural value, the company has made it work. Founded in 2003, it remains one of the few pure-play grid computing vendors left. Because Digipede Network is built for .NET apps, and uses a different work management model than traditional job schedulers, it has little competition from other grid computing products. 

The Digipede Network  solution is rather straightforward. It consists of a Digipede Server and one or more Digipede Agents. The Server parcels out client requests to the Agents, which are responsible for managing the resources at the node level (servers or desktop clients). Like any grid computing solution, the idea is to distribute a compute-intensive job across multiple cores, processors and compute boxes, with minimal changes to the application source code.

The secret sauce for the company is the Digipede Framework SDK. It enables Windows .NET developers to take single-threaded, object-oriented apps and transform them into distributed computing programs. According to Digipede this can be accomplished with just a smattering of source changes — about 20 lines of new code. That allows conventionally-trained programmers and their legacy applications to make the jump to distributed computing with a minimal amount of pain.

That may seem like the Holy Grail of programming, but Digipede picks its apps carefully. Rather than attempting to parallelize any kind of software, the technology is focused on what Digipede CEO John Powers refers to as “delightfully parallel” codes, or in conventional parlance, embarrassingly parallel. These are applications that can be easily split up into many tasks that have little dependency upon each other. This model of parallelization can lead to near linear speedups in performance. “That’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” laughs Powers.

Digipede Network runs on all modern Windows client and server platforms, from XP to Windows HPC Server, and is well integrated into the componentry of Microsoft’s software empire. Besides the .NET framework itself (and Parallel Extensions), Digipede is interoperable with Visual Studio and all the server-side technology. Keeping up with the latest and greatest from Microsoft is a full-time job, but keeping the .NET developers happy is the prime directive at Digipede.

The company’s latest release, Digipede Network 2.4, moves the technology up to .NET 4 and adds Windows 7 certification. The new version also includes API improvements, finer control of multicore computing, as well as performance improvements under the hood.

Although the company doesn’t focus strictly on HPC-style technical computing applications, a lot of its customers’ codes fall into that category. Probably the biggest single industry for Digipede is financial services, especially hedge funds. Companies in this vertical do market risk simulations for a living and the vast majority are on Windows platforms. Other big customers include defense firms and electric utility companies.

Up until 2007 especially, financial services drove the success of the company. When the industry imploded with the Great Recession, some of Digipede’s most important accounts disappeared. “Our biggest customer in 2007 was Countrywide and they didn’t make it to 2008,” notes Powers. The hedge fund companies held their own through the economic downturn, though, and today the financial space still accounts for about half of Digipede’s revenues.

The electric utility space is an emerging market for the Digipede, and Powers says this industry has taken off in 2010. The applications themselves — risk management and market simulation models — are much like those in the financial arena, and thus well-suited to Digipede-style distributed computing. System size is still relatively small though, generally in the 10 to 20 node range.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Digipede receives plenty of support from the software giant to help build its accounts, but its the Windows HPC Server offering that is aligned particularly well with Digipede’s strategy. The HPC product is offered at a steep discount (compared to the standard Window Server) in order to be competitive with the corresponding Linux offerings from Red Hat and Novell. The only license restriction is that you can’t run other Microsoft server components like SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint under the HPC banner. It essentially levels the playing field with Linux, cost-wise, in the high performance computing arena. “The HPC Server is the best thing that’s ever happened to us because it’s a way to buy Microsoft’s best OS technology at 80 percent off,” explains Powers.

Besides the Microsoft fixation, the other distinguishing characteristic of Digipede’s strategy is its resistance to jump into the cloud computing space. Unlike many grid vendors that are expanding into cloud management, Digipede still views itself as a distributed computing vendor. According to Powers, there’s very little going on in the cloud space to make it easier to deploy .NET applications right now. Even Microsoft has been very slow to talk about it, he says.

Azure may eventually turn out to be the avenue for .NET in the cloud, but Microsoft seems more interested in capturing new applications. “If I were building the next Facebook, I’d head for Azure in a shot,” says Powers. “But if I had an existing legacy application that burned through a lot of compute cycles, I think Azure has a ways to go before it tackles that.”

Digipede Network can run in cloud environments as well as it can run on dedicated clusters and workstations, according to Powers. So at least for the time being he seems content to dance with the one that brung them. “We view cloud as being a deployment choice as much as anything,” explains Powers. “People talk about it as this profound revolution. In terms of org charts at most enterprises, it will be profound. But in terms of software development, our platform runs great in a cloud or runs great right here on the ground. We leave it up to our customers to figure out where they want to deploy.”

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!

Why Student Cluster Competitions are Better than World Cup

June 21, 2018

My last article about the ISC18 Student Cluster Competition, titled “World Cup is Lame Compared to This Competition”, may have implied that I believe Student Cluster Competitions are better than World Cup soccer in s Read more…

By Dan Olds

European HPC Summit Week and PRACEdays 2018: Slaying Dragons and SHAPEing Futures One SME at a Time

June 20, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened May 29, 2018. The conference was chaired by PRACE Council Vice-Chair Sergi Girona (Barcelona Super Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

An Overview of ‘OpenACC for Programmers’ from the Book’s Editors

June 20, 2018

In an era of multicore processors coupled with manycore accelerators in all kinds of devices from smartphones all the way to supercomputers, it is important to train current and future computational scientists of all dom Read more…

By Sunita Chandrasekaran and Guido Juckeland

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Preview the World’s Smartest Supercomputer at ISC 2018

Introducing an accelerated IT infrastructure for HPC & AI workloads Read more…

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose primary use case is to support high IOPS rates to/from a scra Read more…

By John Russell

European HPC Summit Week and PRACEdays 2018: Slaying Dragons and SHAPEing Futures One SME at a Time

June 20, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened May 29, 2018. The conference was chair Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose p Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Machine Learning Hype Cycle and HPC

June 14, 2018

Like many other HPC professionals I’m following the hype cycle around machine learning/deep learning with interest. I subscribe to the view that we’re probably approaching the ‘peak of inflated expectation’ but not quite yet starting the descent into the ‘trough of disillusionment. This still raises the probability that... Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Xiaoxiang Zhu Receives the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC

June 13, 2018

Xiaoxiang Zhu, who works for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technical University of Munich (TUM), was awarded the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC for her outstanding contributions in the field of high performance computing (HPC) in Europe. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

U.S Considering Launch of National Quantum Initiative

June 11, 2018

Sometime this month the U.S. House Science Committee will introduce legislation to launch a 10-year National Quantum Initiative, according to a recent report by Read more…

By John Russell

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale USA – Continuing to Move Forward

June 6, 2018

The end of May 2018, saw several important events that continue to advance the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) for the United Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda 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

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 Sympo Read more…

By Staff

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

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

Google I/O 2018: AI Everywhere; TPU 3.0 Delivers 100+ Petaflops but Requires Liquid Cooling

May 9, 2018

All things AI dominated discussion at yesterday’s opening of Google’s I/O 2018 developers meeting covering much of Google's near-term product roadmap. The e Read more…

By John Russell

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

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Charts Two-Dimensional Quantum Course

April 26, 2018

Quantum error correction, essential for achieving universal fault-tolerant quantum computation, is one of the main challenges of the quantum computing field and it’s top of mind for Google’s John Martinis. At a presentation last week at the HPC User Forum in Tucson, Martinis, one of the world's foremost experts in quantum computing, emphasized... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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