The Weekly Top Five

By Tiffany Trader

March 31, 2011

The Weekly Top Five features the five biggest HPC stories of the week, condensed for your reading pleasure. This week, we cover the UK-based Atomic Weapons Establishment’s selection of two SGI Altix systems; Platform’s new solution for managing “big data”; the effect of rising sea levels on the North Carolina coastal region; SDSC’s new portal for conducting phylogenetic research; and the selection of Ian Foster for this year’s IEEE Tsutomu Kanai Award.

SGI Supports UK Atomic Weapons Establishment

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), located in the United Kingdom, has selected two SGI Altix UV 1000 systems to assist with several critical applications, including nuclear deterrence.

In the official release, Ken Atkinson, HPC strategy and procurement manager at AWE, was quoted as saying:

“The breadth and depth of our science, engineering and technology is extensive, and includes several key areas that are central to AWE’s work, such as plasma physics, design physics and supercomputing. We require the most advanced high performance computing to support our demanding, large memory applications, and looked to SGI to provide a system on which we can rely. We can now run our largest problem sets in less than half the time it previously took, bringing the total cost of ownership over the next three years to less than 50 percent of the current level.”

SGI officials explain that the Altix UV systems were designed for maximum scalability. The fully-integrated cabinet-level solution comes equipped with up to 256 sockets (2,048 cores) and 16 terabytes of shared memory in four racks. All told, a single system image can deliver up to 18.5 teraflops of computing power.

AWE is tasked with manufacturing and maintaining the warheads for the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. The SGI system will assist the AWE in meeting its goal of maintaing its nuclear arsenal without the need for actual nuclear testing in accordance with UK laws.

Platform Computing Develops “Big Data” Solution

Platform Computing announced it has created an analytics solution to support “big data” using the Apache Hadoop MapReduce programming model. Platform’s distributed analytics platform is fully compatible with MapReduce, providing current MapReduce applications with a smooth transition to the Platform solution, while also supporting multiple distributed file systems.

From the release:

By extending enterprise-class capabilities to MapReduce distributed workloads, customers benefit from the ability to scale to thousands of commodity server cores for shared applications. The results include the ability to perform at very high execution rates, offer IT manageability and monitoring while controlling workload policies for multiple lines of business users and applications and obtain built-in, high availability services that ensure quality of service.

Carl Olofson, research vice president, IDC, describes how the solution addresses customer needs:

“Customers need a robust solution to manage and process their dynamically defined data, their sensor data, and their unstructured data. MapReduce has proven to be a leading tool for analyzing this data, but customers need enterprise-class solutions to ensure manageability and scalability for these environments. Platform is positioned well to provide distributed workload and enterprise class middleware to address these challenges.”

In our feature coverage of this story, Editor Nicole Hemsoth reveals how Platform created the new offering by layering APIs over the company’s core distributed computing middleware, Platform Symphony. Symphony provides the distributed management and job execution engine, over which the Platform developers affix specific APIs for different job types. Hemsoth explains that “users can manage complexity by using the Symphony framework along with those APIs, and on the backside, using connectors to file systems or databases to serve as I/O for MapReduce jobs.”

Rising Sea Levels Could Alter North Carolina Coast

Scientists at the North-Carolina based research organization RENCI are employing sophisticated computer modeling to predict how the changing climate will affect the North Carolina coast in the coming centuries. Specifically, they have been able to show how “increases in sea level over the next 100 years could affect coastal communities, wildlife and the coastline itself.”

Researchers are concerned that melting water from glaciers and thermal expansion from warming oceans will raise sea levels by one-half to 1 meter (1.6 to 3.2 feet) over the course of the next century and by 1 meter to 2 meters (6.5 feet) over the next 200 years. If that occurs, the North Carolina coast will undergo an extreme makeover, according to UNC-Chapel Hill marine scientist Tom Shay.

Shay and his colleagues are using the ADCIRC coastal storm surge modeling software and the SWAN (for Simulating WAves Nearshore) wave modeling software to illustrate how future weather events along with higher sea levels could affect the coastal region. The RENCI supercomputer is running multiple storm simulations to generate forecasts about future coastal climate change and associated risks, such as to the inhabitants of the area and to the local economy.

Shay says that if sea level rises by a meter, “we will see higher tides, higher tidal velocities and tidal inundation every day. And we’ll have a different shoreline.”

The scientists hope that their work will help inform policy, but are also careful to point out that there is a degree of uncertainty when dealing with one-hundred-year timeframes.

CIPRES Gateway Speeds Phylogenetic Analyses

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) has unveiled a new resource that facilitates the study evolutionary relationships among large populations of living things. The tool, called CIPRES (CyberInfrastructure for Phylogenetic RESearch) Gateway, is a Web portal that allows scientists to upload their data via a standard Internet browser and perform phylogenetic analyses from any location. Designed for ease-of-use and accessibility, CIPRES allows researchers to generate results in less time without the need for high levels of computer expertise.

Mark Miller, principal investigator in SDSC’s Research, Education and Development group, and leader of the CIPRES Gateway project, examines some of the practical benefits that come from a thorough understanding of evolutionary relationships. For example, he explains how “knowing the evolutionary relationships among a group of viruses or bacteria can help doctors understand where an infection came from, effectively treat patients who are infected, and work to contain the spread of disease during an outbreak.”

This is a field that relies heavily on high-end computational resources. As Miller notes, “there are only three possible relationships between any four individuals, but there are more than two million different relationships between 10 individuals. A computer that could analyze a million trees per second would require about 20 billion years to test all the possible relationships for just 22 individuals!”As the amount of data grows, so do the computing requirements.” That’s where the CIPRES Gateway and TeraGrid supercomputers come in. The parallel computing power of the TeraGrid systems allows the large sequencing problems to be broken into smaller pieces that can be run simultaneously across many processor cores.

Operational for a little over a year, the CIPRES Gateway has already assisted more than 2,000 scientists who have used the platform to run more than 35,000 analyses for approximately 100 completed studies in the biological and medical arenas.

Ian Foster Receives Prestigious Tsutomu Kanai Award

The University of Chicago announced that Ian Foster was selected as this year’s IEEE Tsutomu Kanai Award recipient. The award, named in honor of former Hitachi president Tsutomu Kanai, is given in recognition of major contributions to state-of-the art, distributed computing systems and their applications, and includes a $10,000 honorarium.

Ian Foster is the director of the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. He is also the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science at UChicago and an Argonne Distinguished Fellow at Argonne.

Foster is both a leading advocate and a pioneering visionary in the field of distributed computing. As the announcement points out, the methods that Foster and his colleagues have developed “allow computing to be delivered reliably and securely on demand, as a service, and permit the formation and operation of virtual organizations linking people and resources worldwide. These results, and the associated Globus open-source software, have helped advance discovery in such areas as high-energy physics, environmental science and biomedicine. Grid computing methods also have proved influential outside the world of science, contributing to the emergence of cloud computing.”

Foster shared his thoughts on the achievement in a prepared statement:

“I am extremely honored to receive this award. Distributed computing is critical for solving complex system-level problems in a wide range of applications, from energy and climate to bioinformatics and molecular engineering, and continues to enable breakthroughs in research across the sciences.”

The award ceremony will be held May 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, NM.

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!

US Exascale Computing Update with Paul Messina

December 8, 2016

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to cross the next major computing threshold with machines that are 50-100x more performant than today’s fastest number crunchers.  Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Dec. 8, 2016)

December 8, 2016

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Qualcomm Targets Intel Datacenter Dominance with 10nm ARM-based Server Chip

December 8, 2016

Claiming no less than a reshaping of the future of Intel-dominated datacenter computing, Qualcomm Technologies, the market leader in smartphone chips, announced the forthcoming availability of what it says is the world’s first 10nm processor for servers, based on ARM Holding’s chip designs. Read more…

By Doug Black

Which Schools Produce the Top Coders in the World?

December 8, 2016

Ever wonder which universities worldwide produce the best coders? The answers may surprise you, at least as judged by the results of a competition posted yesterday on the HackerRank blog. Read more…

By John Russell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

DDN Enables 50TB/Day Trans-Pacific Data Transfer for Yahoo Japan

December 6, 2016

Transferring data from one data center to another in search of lower regional energy costs isn’t a new concept, but Yahoo Japan is putting the idea into transcontinental effect with a system that transfers 50TB of data a day from Japan to the U.S., where electricity costs a quarter of the rates in Japan. Read more…

By Doug Black

Infographic Highlights Career of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

December 5, 2016

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an early pioneer of computer science and one of the most famous women achievers in a field dominated by men. Read more…

By Staff

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

US Exascale Computing Update with Paul Messina

December 8, 2016

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to cross the next major computing threshold with machines that are 50-100x more performant than today’s fastest number crunchers.  Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (Hanna), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC. Read more…

By John Russell

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

August 23, 2016

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Read more…

By Vincent Natoli, Stone Ridge Technology

IBM Advances Against x86 with Power9

August 30, 2016

After offering OpenPower Summit attendees a limited preview in April, IBM is unveiling further details of its next-gen CPU, Power9, which the tech mainstay is counting on to regain market share ceded to rival Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

August 15, 2016

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Read more…

By John Russell

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

August 22, 2016

ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. Read more…

By John Russell

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

Leading Solution Providers

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

August 18, 2016

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Micron, Intel Prepare to Launch 3D XPoint Memory

August 16, 2016

Micron Technology used last week’s Flash Memory Summit to roll out its new line of 3D XPoint memory technology jointly developed with Intel while demonstrating the technology in solid-state drives. Micron claimed its Quantx line delivers PCI Express (PCIe) SSD performance with read latencies at less than 10 microseconds and writes at less than 20 microseconds. Read more…

By George Leopold

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

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