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!

Nvidia Leads Alpha MLPerf Benchmarking Round

December 12, 2018

Seven months after the launch of its AI benchmarking suite, the MLPerf consortium is releasing the first round of results based on submissions from Nvidia, Google and Intel. Of the seven benchmarks encompassed in version Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Neural Network ‘Synapse’ Technology Showcased at IEEE Meeting

December 12, 2018

There’s nice snapshot of advancing work to develop improved neural network “synapse” technologies posted yesterday on IEEE Spectrum. Lower power, ease of use, manufacturability, and performance are all key paramete Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, Nvidia in AI Data Pipeline, Processing, Storage Union

December 11, 2018

IBM and Nvidia today announced a new turnkey AI solution that combines IBM Spectrum Scale scale-out file storage with Nvidia’s GPU-based DGX-1 AI server to provide what the companies call the “the highest performance Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Blurring the Lines Between HPC and AI @ SC18

The dominant topic at SC18 was the convergence of HPC and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with some of the biggest research and enterprise HPC users providing perspectives on how HPC and AI are moving closer together. Read more…

Is Amazon’s Plunge into Server Chips a Watershed Moment?

December 11, 2018

For several years now the big cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, et al – have been transforming from technology consumers into technology creators in hardware and software. The most recent example bei Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Leads Alpha MLPerf Benchmarking Round

December 12, 2018

Seven months after the launch of its AI benchmarking suite, the MLPerf consortium is releasing the first round of results based on submissions from Nvidia, Goog Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM, Nvidia in AI Data Pipeline, Processing, Storage Union

December 11, 2018

IBM and Nvidia today announced a new turnkey AI solution that combines IBM Spectrum Scale scale-out file storage with Nvidia’s GPU-based DGX-1 AI server to pr Read more…

By Doug Black

Is Amazon’s Plunge into Server Chips a Watershed Moment?

December 11, 2018

For several years now the big cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, et al – have been transforming from technology consumers into technology cr Read more…

By John Russell

Mellanox Uses Univa to Extend Silicon Design HPC Operation to Azure

December 11, 2018

Call it a corollary to Murphy’s Law: When a system is most in demand, when end users are most dependent on the system performing as required, when it’s crunch time – that’s when the system is most likely to blow up. Or make you wait in line to use it. Read more…

By Doug Black

Topology Can Help Us Find Patterns in Weather

December 6, 2018

Topology--the study of shapes--seems to be all the rage. You could even say that data has shape, and shape matters. Shapes are comfortable and familiar concepts, so it is intriguing to see that many applications are being recast to use topology. For instance, looking for weather and climate patterns. Read more…

By James Reinders

Zettascale by 2035? China Thinks So

December 6, 2018

Exascale machines (of at least a 1 exaflops peak) are anticipated to arrive by around 2020, a few years behind original predictions; and given extreme-scale performance challenges are not getting any easier, it makes sense that researchers are already looking ahead to the next big 1,000x performance goal post: zettascale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Robust Quantum Computers Still a Decade Away, Says Nat’l Academies Report

December 5, 2018

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine yesterday released a report – Quantum Computing: Progress and Prospects – whose optimism about Read more…

By John Russell

Revisiting the 2008 Exascale Computing Study at SC18

November 29, 2018

A report published a decade ago conveyed the results of a study aimed at determining if it were possible to achieve 1000X the computational power of the the Read more…

By Scott Gibson

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

The Convergence of Big Data and Extreme-Scale HPC

August 31, 2018

As we are heading towards extreme-scale HPC coupled with data intensive analytics like machine learning, the necessary integration of big data and HPC is a curr Read more…

By Rob Farber

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