Top HPC Cloud Luminaries Gather in Germany

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 2, 2010

Last week at the ISC Cloud event in Frankfurt, Germany, a sizable group of well-known figures in both HPC and cloud gathered to discuss the progress, challenges and issues on the horizon for high-performance computing in the cloud.

The event, while only in its first year, marks a significant milestone in the HPC cloud space as it shows that there is interest building at the intersection between clouds and technical computing. The sessions provided rich fodder for those interested in understanding the way cloud can enhance current projects or, at the very least, bring about some cost-efficiency.

Wolfgang Gentzsch, ISC Cloud ’10’s chair and expert on grids and the carryover to clouds, stated at the conference opening that, “The high-performance computing community has been deluged with news about the new computing paradigm of cloud computing. Although there is a lot of discussion, there are also many unanswered questions.” While the conference sought to address or at least touch on the vast range of questions that are floating around both inside and outside of the HPC community, among some of the more pressing was whether or not clouds will replace supercomputers.

In Gentzsch’s view, “Many people still seem to be confused about high performance computing (HPC) versus grids versus clouds, and are unsure about the next steps. For ISC Cloud ’10 we are building a program that will answer these questions and help attendees see the cloud more clearly.”

The conference did indeed address many of the most persistent questions about clouds for high-performance computing applications. For instance, Phillippe Massonet from CETIC presented on the topic of “Security in the Cloud: Benefits, Risks and Recommendations” and analysts, including John Barr of the 451 Group, were able to provide some context for the discussions with facts and figures about current adoption, benefits and challenges of cloud for HPC.

Highlights from the Lineup

The list of sessions included discussions ranging from the basic and introductory to some that examined technical issues involved with large-scale cloud deployments. Furthermore, the event drew notable speakers from some of the world’s leading cloud computing and HPC companies and research centers — a fact that provided the first-year conference some name power to draw in attendees.

Dan Reed, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, technology strategy and policy and extreme computing group, presented his keynote, entitled “Technical Clouds: Seeding Discovery,” which hinged on his view that the burgeoning cloud infrastructure is “far bigger than anything previously contemplated in high-performance computing.” Reed’s talk drove home the point that cloud architectures and software paradigms differ from those used in technical computing, and that understanding this is a key first step in approaching HPC clouds, from both an end user and abstract point of view.

Before the event, Wolfgang Gentzsch interviewed Dan Reed about his views on the cloud for scientific computing, which can be read here.

Another leader in the HPC and cloud space who presented a keynote in Frankfurt was Kathy Yelick, associate laboratory director for Computing Sciences and director of the NERSC Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Her discussion, entitled “Science in the Clouds: A View from Berkeley,” presented some results from the cloud computing testbed for scientific computing at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). Berkeley has been a hotbed of cloud computing research, particularly in terms of its pioneering work with both public and private clouds (AWS and its Magellan cloud respectively).

Dr. Ulrich Schwickerath, project manager at CERN, gave an in-depth overview of CERN’s cloud computing infrastructure in which he detailed the research center’s IaaS setup and its successes. More specifically, he discussed the concepts underlying virtualized batch systems and the center’s plans for a virtual batch farm extention.

As Schwickerath explained, “In Spring 201, about 500 recent batch worker nodes have been added temporarily to the system, which allowed us to perform large-scale tests of the new infrastructure. The batch computing farm, which makes up a critical part of the CERN datacenter, now had the possibility to use this IaaS to provision a large number of virtual batch worker nodes. By making use of the new equipment, both the virtual machine provisioning systems and the batch application itself have been tested extensively at large scale. This way it has been demonstrated that the system can sustain 15,000 or more concurrent virtual batch worker nodes.”

Industry Perspectives on HPC Clouds

While scientific computing in the cloud was at the heart of several talks in Frankfurt, a number of industry experts and those with perspectives on cloud adoption in the enterprise also provided context for discussion.

Boyd Davis, vice president of Intel’s Architecture Group, presented “Enabling Scalable and Secure Cloud Infrastructures to Meet the demands of Compute-Intensive Workloads” in which he discussed a number of issues outside of the title, including cloud security, power efficiency, and making choices about scalable storage. The focus of the presentation was on providing a view of Intel’s roadmap of capabilities that are required before wider cloud adoption occurs, and to this end Boyd Davis provided information about available reference architectures in the context of customer examples, particularly those in compute-intensive environments.

Fritz Ferstl, director of grid and cluster management for Oracle Germany, presented use cases for production clouds across industry in order to show how clouds are being adopted by different markets and how these differing segments have made use of them. This is one of the more helpful conversations to have at a cloud-related event because oftentimes, when discussed in the abstract, the challenges of practical cloud implementation are glossed over or not addressed in a balanced way. One of the main questions that Ferstl addressed focused on how industry chooses its cloud solutions, public, private or hybrid, and for those who have not yet made the leap to clouds, what might be preventing the move.

Back for More?

The event is a spin-off conference put together by the same group that brings us the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) each year, which is organized by Professor Hans Meuer (pictured right) and his Prometeus Team. While there was some talk of clouds at this past year’s ISC conference, the focus remained on traditional, non-virtualized HPC. Having a separate conference dedicated to exploring HPC and clouds allows for greater focus on particular issues that might have been brushed over during an event that was not cloud-centered.

Judging by the response garnered from a first-year event, there is enough momentum gathering in the HPC cloud space to justify its own set of sessions — enough so that it was able to pull in some big names from both high-performance computing and cloud.

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!

Study Identifies Best Practices for Public-Private HPC Engagement

August 22, 2017

What's the best way for HPC centers in the public sphere to engage with private industry partners to boost the competitiveness of the companies and the larger communities? That question is at the heart of a new study pub Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Launches Site to Share its NYC-based Algorithm Research

August 22, 2017

Much of Google’s algorithm development occurs in groups scattered throughout New York City. Yesterday, Google launched a single website - NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team page - to provide a deeper view into all of Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Strikes Reseller Deal with Atos; Supplants SGI

August 22, 2017

Dell EMC and Atos announced a reseller deal today in which Dell will offer Atos’ high-end 8- and 16-socket Bullion servers. Some move from Dell had been expected following Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s purchase of SGI Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Glimpses of Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017

Here are a few arresting images posted by NASA of today’s total solar eclipse. Such astronomical events have always captured our imagination and it’s not hard to understand why such occurrences were often greeted wit Read more…

By John Russell

Study Identifies Best Practices for Public-Private HPC Engagement

August 22, 2017

What's the best way for HPC centers in the public sphere to engage with private industry partners to boost the competitiveness of the companies and the larger c Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Giants Outline Battle Plans for Future HPC Market

August 21, 2017

Four companies engaged in a cage fight for leadership in the emerging HPC market of the 2020s are, despite deep differences in some areas, in violent agreement Read more…

By Doug Black

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ 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

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

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 cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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