Embedded Clouds: A Look Back at HPEC 2010

By Craig Lund

September 22, 2010

High-performance computing (HPC) isn’t restricted to computer rooms. It is also found “embedded” within expensive gadgets. For example, it is at your local hospital inside the CAT and MR scanners. It is inspecting new semiconductors. It is inside defense RADAR and signals intelligence platforms. In fact, the market for embedded HPC is thought to be about the same size as the market for supercomputers.

Will cloud computing impact these embedded applications?  Evidence exists that clouds are indeed having an impact on applications that involve sensors or local data. This is documented in VDC Research’s survey of commercial, industrial, and defense applications titled “Scalable Edge Nodes: Cloud Services for Embedded Applications”. VDC’s results were previewed at the last week’s High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) workshop. VDC predicted the emergence of a tiered cloud where some computing is located near the data (instead of moving all data to distant servers).

The theme of last week’s HPEC workshop was: “custom clouds and GPU chips:  their impact on DoD applications”.

As the workshop progressed multiple definitions of the word “cloud” emerged. Several speakers described “cloud” as enabling pattern matching within large databases. At the opposite extreme, speakers called big microprocessors “clouds”. Finally the closing panel jumped off the technical tracks and defined “cloud” as a new business model.

One cloud application not discussed at HPEC was “utility computing” which is this community’s name for services like Amazon’s EC2 which share servers among users. Sharing is difficult when classified data is involved.

Speakers using the pattern matching definition noted that clouds are what Google and Facebook use to mine their own websites for patterns that attract advertisers. Of course the government’s interest is different: searching through things like  email and telephone intercepts and then automatically pointing analysts at potential terrorists. Multiple HPEC presentations used this very example while describing the underlying middleware and database. On the hardware side, HPEC’s “data intensive” platform talks ranged from an introduction to a new supercomputer at SDSC to a description of a custom 3D-Graph microprocessor from Lincoln Labs.

Yes, marketers are now labeling single chips as clouds. Intel may have started this trend back in December when it announced a 48 core research chip as a “single chip cloud computer”.  Now it seems every chip with many cores or many threads calls itself a cloud. At HPEC we saw that spin from Tilera and others.

The workshop ended with a panel of experts answering audience questions relating to the conference theme. This year Raytheon’s Niraj Srivastava responded to the very first question by describing clouds as a new kind of outsourcing. He used DISA’s RACE procurement won by HP as an example. The panel’s conversation never returned to the technical domain. Instead panel members explored service level agreements and similar concepts driving the enterprise world.

The complete HPEC theme included a focus on GPU computing as the this community is open to deploying accelerators. Many HPEC papers described science projects using GPU chips. The general impression was that GPUs speed up some algorithms but overall performance suffers from the overhead of copying data both into and out of the GPU.  Multiple speakers also complained that fast GPU code is not portable. Finally, compute-enabled GPU chips consume lots of power and thus become difficult “point heat sources” within embedded systems. Nevertheless, speakers mentioned that at least two embedded vendors, Mercury Computer and GE Intelligent Platforms, have added GPU acceleration into their air-cooled product lines.

HPEC stands for High Performance Embedded Computing. The HPEC workshop is in its 14th year and always held at MIT Lincoln Laboratory near Boston.  The two day event attracts roughly 200 people and is probably best known as the venue where DARPA traditionally announces new high performance computing programs. However, no programs were announced this year although the keynote speaker was outgoing DARPA TCTO office director Dr. Peter Lee. Instead Lee described the recent merger of TCTO with IPTO into a new office named I2O. He hinted that researchers should expect new programs in about six months, probably focused on exploitation and cyber security. Lee is departing DARPA to become the Managing Director of Microsoft Research Redmond.

Do the VDC survey results feel correct after listening to the entire conference? No speaker talked about a tiered cloud. No speaker debated the wisdom of moving data far away for analysis. These topics were left open, probably considered implementation details.  The focus at HPEC was higher level — what new capabilities can cloud technology bring that are not currently available to analysts and “warfighters”? Who will make research dollars available to make it happen?  It appears those dollars are flowing and future HPEC conferences will continue to explore the intersection of clouds with embedded applications.

The HPEC workshop’s website is http://www.ll.mit.edu/hpec. Slides used by workshop speakers will eventually appear on this site. Slides from past workshops are already there. The next HPEC is September 20-22, 2011.

About the Author

Craig Lund has a long record of successfully driving high-performance computing into profitable niche markets. That happened at Mercury Computer where he was CTO and helped pioneer adoption within medical imaging, inspection, and defense. Before Mercury, Craig led successful  HPC business thrusts into large-scale decision support and real-time control.

Craig is currently consulting for a collection of defense primes, HPC vendors, and semiconductor firms. He also writes for HPC in the Cloud. You can reach him using clund ATSIGN localk DOTcom

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!

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

NSF Awards $11M to SDSC, MIT and Univ. of Oregon to Secure the Internet

October 14, 2021

From a security standpoint, the internet is a problem. The infrastructure developed decades ago has cracked, leaked and been patched up innumerable times, leaving vulnerabilities that are difficult to address due to cost Read more…

SC21 Announces Science and Beyond Plenary: the Intersection of Ethics and HPC

October 13, 2021

The Intersection of Ethics and HPC will be the guiding topic of SC21's Science & Beyond plenary, inspired by the event tagline of the same name. The evening event will be moderated by Daniel Reed with panelists Crist Read more…

Quantum Workforce – NSTC Report Highlights Need for International Talent

October 13, 2021

Attracting and training the needed quantum workforce to fuel the ongoing quantum information sciences (QIS) revolution is a hot topic these days. Last week, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council issued a report – The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Cost optimizing Ansys LS-Dyna on AWS

Organizations migrate their high performance computing (HPC) workloads from on-premises infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for advantages such as high availability, elastic capacity, latest processors, storage, and networking technologies; Read more…

Eni Returns to HPE for ‘HPC4’ Refresh via GreenLake

October 13, 2021

Italian energy company Eni is upgrading its HPC4 system with new gear from HPE that will be installed in Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone (a province in Pavia, Italy), and delivered “as-a-service” via H Read more…

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

Quantum Workforce – NSTC Report Highlights Need for International Talent

October 13, 2021

Attracting and training the needed quantum workforce to fuel the ongoing quantum information sciences (QIS) revolution is a hot topic these days. Last week, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council issued a report – The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science... Read more…

Eni Returns to HPE for ‘HPC4’ Refresh via GreenLake

October 13, 2021

Italian energy company Eni is upgrading its HPC4 system with new gear from HPE that will be installed in Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone (a provi Read more…

The Blueprint for the National Strategic Computing Reserve

October 12, 2021

Over the last year, the HPC community has been buzzing with the possibility of a National Strategic Computing Reserve (NSCR). An in-utero brainchild of the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, an NSCR would serve as a Merchant Marine for urgent computing... Read more…

UCLA Researchers Report Largest Chiplet Design and Early Prototyping

October 12, 2021

What’s the best path forward for large-scale chip/system integration? Good question. Cerebras has set a high bar with its wafer scale engine 2 (WSE-2); it has 2.6 trillion transistors, including 850,000 cores, and was fabricated using TSMC’s 7nm process on a roughly 8” x 8” silicon footprint. Read more…

What’s Next for EuroHPC: an Interview with EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Anders Dam Jensen

October 7, 2021

One year after taking the post as executive director of the EuroHPC JU, Anders Dam Jensen reviews the project's accomplishments and details what's ahead as EuroHPC's operating period has now been extended out to the year 2027. Read more…

University of Bath Unveils Janus, an Azure-Based Cloud HPC Environment

October 6, 2021

The University of Bath is upgrading its HPC infrastructure, which it says “supports a growing and wide range of research activities across the University.” Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer... Read more…

Enter Dojo: Tesla Reveals Design for Modular Supercomputer & D1 Chip

August 20, 2021

Two months ago, Tesla revealed a massive GPU cluster that it said was “roughly the number five supercomputer in the world,” and which was just a precursor to Tesla’s real supercomputing moonshot: the long-rumored, little-detailed Dojo system. Read more…

Esperanto, Silicon in Hand, Champions the Efficiency of Its 1,092-Core RISC-V Chip

August 27, 2021

Esperanto Technologies made waves last December when it announced ET-SoC-1, a new RISC-V-based chip aimed at machine learning that packed nearly 1,100 cores onto a package small enough to fit six times over on a single PCIe card. Now, Esperanto is back, silicon in-hand and taking aim... Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months... Read more…

US Closes in on Exascale: Frontier Installation Is Underway

September 29, 2021

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, held by Zoom this week (Sept. 29-30), it was revealed that the Frontier supercomputer is currently being installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The staff at the Oak Ridge Leadership... Read more…

Intel Completes LLVM Adoption; Will End Updates to Classic C/C++ Compilers in Future

August 10, 2021

Intel reported in a blog this week that its adoption of the open source LLVM architecture for Intel’s C/C++ compiler is complete. The transition is part of In Read more…

Hot Chips: Here Come the DPUs and IPUs from Arm, Nvidia and Intel

August 25, 2021

The emergence of data processing units (DPU) and infrastructure processing units (IPU) as potentially important pieces in cloud and datacenter architectures was Read more…

AMD-Xilinx Deal Gains UK, EU Approvals — China’s Decision Still Pending

July 1, 2021

AMD’s planned acquisition of FPGA maker Xilinx is now in the hands of Chinese regulators after needed antitrust approvals for the $35 billion deal were receiv Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

HPE Wins $2B GreenLake HPC-as-a-Service Deal with NSA

September 1, 2021

In the heated, oft-contentious, government IT space, HPE has won a massive $2 billion contract to provide HPC and AI services to the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). Following on the heels of the now-canceled $10 billion JEDI contract (reissued as JWCC) and a $10 billion... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

The Latest MLPerf Inference Results: Nvidia GPUs Hold Sway but Here Come CPUs and Intel

September 22, 2021

The latest round of MLPerf inference benchmark (v 1.1) results was released today and Nvidia again dominated, sweeping the top spots in the closed (apples-to-ap Read more…

Frontier to Meet 20MW Exascale Power Target Set by DARPA in 2008

July 14, 2021

After more than a decade of planning, the United States’ first exascale computer, Frontier, is set to arrive at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) later this year. Crossing this “1,000x” horizon required overcoming four major challenges: power demand, reliability, extreme parallelism and data movement. Read more…

Intel Unveils New Node Names; Sapphire Rapids Is Now an ‘Intel 7’ CPU

July 27, 2021

What's a preeminent chip company to do when its process node technology lags the competition by (roughly) one generation, but outmoded naming conventions make i Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire