Bull’s Market for HPC on Demand

By Nicole Hemsoth

May 18, 2011

In the midst of the general excitement at this past year’s Supercomputing Conference in New Orleans, French high performance computing vendor Bull slipped in news about its HPC on demand service, eXtreme Factory. According to Pascal Barbolosi, the head of Extreme Computing at Bull, the on-demand service has taken off, with several million compute hours logged in the platform’s first six months.

Unlike other more general purpose cloud or on-demand services, Bull’s solution is targeted at users with complex modeling and simulation needs. Many of the codes that are preconfigured include those used in manufacturing, film and engineering.

In an interview this week to check in on progress with the company’s HPC service, Barbolosi noted that unlike commercial clouds, their eXtreme Factory is addressing the requirements of HPC customers by providing on-demand remote compute facilities access with a preinstalled and configured environment where ISV applications and open source codes are installed and available.

In his view, public cloud resources designed in a more one-size-fits-all fashion cannot match the requirements of high performance computing user needs. Accordingly, the Bull HPC head explains that his company is opting to “position this HPC on demand service because HPC requirements make it rather different from commercial hyper-marketed clouds.”

Barbolosi told us this week that there were customers running applications on-demand with Bull before the actual launch of the HPC cloud. He pointing to a “well-known automotive manufacturer” that was using a few hundred cores of HPC compute servers via a high performance 100Mbit telecom line earlier in 2010.

He says that as time has progressed and this customer has upgraded, replaced and adapted the number and capabilities of the HPC bullx servers they use they were able to continue along without interruption of their CFD and crash-test applications. He points to this kind of flexibility as attractive to high performance computing customers, noting that the platform can be used in parallel with on-site resources.

Barbolosi identified another early adopter of the eXtreme Factory platform that used the service for a month sometime in 2010 before the official launch. In this case the customer used CD Adaptco’s STAR-CCM+ package with its cloud-friendly, portable ‘power on demand’ licensing mechanism. He said that in this case, depending on the project compute needs, the customer can use the same software and license on her own internal compute resources or on Bull’s. This worked out so well that he says they’ve signed on for fresh resources in 2011.

The eXtreme Factory is, not surprisingly, powered exclusively by their own range of servers. According to Barbolosi, “Most of the infrastructure is comprised of Bullx Bades (both CPU only B500 and mixed CPU/GPU B505) interconnected by an efficient QDR InfiniBand network, running bullx SuperComputer Suite and hosted in our data centers.”

Users access the services via a secure, SSL-certified portal to obtain all the necessary functionality for a complete HPC workflow, including organization, uploading input files and data management, publication of applications, submission and monitoring of jobs, and remote visualization and downloading of results.

As the initial release described, in addition to “many thousands” of Xeon processors the data centers are “equipped with a storage environment, with a distributed file system for maximum performance during the processing stages, as well as permanent storage facilities enabling the user, thanks to remote visualization, to enjoy all the convenience of being a local user while avoiding data transfer as far as possible. “

Outside of defending the obvious choice of their own hardware to tackle the challenge, he explained that their customers would not have been attracted to the service if they were using vanilla servers in a traditional cloud. As he put it, “Traditional clouds don’t offer efficient parallel compute capabilities; vanilla servers don’t offer the throughput that our customers expect.”

On that note, when asked about the way cloud hardware is being positioned as “cloud optimized” (and if they were making that claim) Barbolisi said that as far as Bull is concerned, there is no unique feature of cloud-driven servers that is different from HPC-optimized servers. In other words, as he put it, there is a strong commonality between both domains, including performance, density and low-consumption features.

Barbolosi says he expects there to be a rise in the overall market for cloud computing in the next decade. He says that many HPC usage models are well adapted to cloud as users require elasticity and the ability to easily ‘burst’ workloads. However, he notes, “there are some technical issues specific to HPC that need to be addressed, such as remote visualization of data (instead of transferring huge data sets back and forth) and the ability to flexibly manage resource allocation.”

He says that these roadblocks for HPC clouds have inspired a conservative approach in comparison to proven business computing. He says, “nevertheless we consider that cloud will still be an important part [of the market] and could easily exceed 25% to 30% of HPC spending.”

To close, we can take a step back in time to SC10 for this video interview with Pascal Barbolosi as he introduces Bull’s big news, which includes, among other announcements, the eXtreme Factory.

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!

Doug Kothe on the Race to Build Exascale Applications

May 29, 2017

Ensuring there are applications ready to churn out useful science when the first U.S. exascale computers arrive in the 2021-2023 timeframe is Doug Kothe’s job Read more…

By John Russell

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 cryptocurr Read more…

By Doug Black

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

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

Nvidia CEO Predicts AI ‘Cambrian Explosion’

May 25, 2017

The processing power and cloud access to developer tools used to train machine-learning models are making artificial intelligence ubiquitous across computing pl Read more…

By George Leopold

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

Doug Kothe on the Race to Build Exascale Applications

May 29, 2017

Ensuring there are applications ready to churn out useful science when the first U.S. exascale computers arrive in the 2021-2023 timeframe is Doug Kothe’s job Read more…

By John Russell

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage 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

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of "quantum supremacy," researchers are stretching the limits of today's most advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" process Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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