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!

SC17 Student Cluster Competition Configurations: Fewer Nodes, Way More Accelerators

November 16, 2017

The final configurations for each of the SC17 “Donnybrook in Denver” Student Cluster Competition have been released. Fortunately, each team received their equipment shipments on time and undamaged, so the teams are r Read more…

By Dan Olds

Student Clusterers Demolish HPCG Record! Nanyang Sweeps Benchmarks

November 16, 2017

Nanyang pulled off the always difficult double-play at this year’s SC Student Cluster Competition. The plucky team from Singapore posted a world record LINPACK, thus taking the Highest LINPACK Award, but also managed t Read more…

By Dan Olds

Student Cluster LINPACK Record Shattered! More LINs Packed Than Ever before!

November 16, 2017

Nanyang Technological University, the pride of Singapore, utterly destroyed the Student Cluster Competition LINPACK record by posting a score of 51.77 TFlop/s at SC17 in Denver. The previous record, established by German Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Harness Scalable Petabyte Storage with HPE Apollo 4510 and HPE StoreEver

As a growing number of connected devices challenges IT departments to rapidly collect, manage, and store troves of data, organizations must adopt a new generation of IT to help them operate quickly and intelligently. Read more…

Hyperion Market Update: ‘Decent’ Growth Led by HPE; AI Transparency a Risk Issue

November 15, 2017

The HPC market update from Hyperion Research (formerly IDC) at the annual SC conference is a business and social “must,” and this year’s presentation at SC17 played to a SRO crowd at a downtown Denver hotel. This w Read more…

By Doug Black

SC17 Student Cluster Competition Configurations: Fewer Nodes, Way More Accelerators

November 16, 2017

The final configurations for each of the SC17 “Donnybrook in Denver” Student Cluster Competition have been released. Fortunately, each team received their e Read more…

By Dan Olds

Student Clusterers Demolish HPCG Record! Nanyang Sweeps Benchmarks

November 16, 2017

Nanyang pulled off the always difficult double-play at this year’s SC Student Cluster Competition. The plucky team from Singapore posted a world record LINPAC Read more…

By Dan Olds

Student Cluster LINPACK Record Shattered! More LINs Packed Than Ever before!

November 16, 2017

Nanyang Technological University, the pride of Singapore, utterly destroyed the Student Cluster Competition LINPACK record by posting a score of 51.77 TFlop/s a Read more…

By Dan Olds

Hyperion Market Update: ‘Decent’ Growth Led by HPE; AI Transparency a Risk Issue

November 15, 2017

The HPC market update from Hyperion Research (formerly IDC) at the annual SC conference is a business and social “must,” and this year’s presentation at S Read more…

By Doug Black

The Betting Window is Closed: Final Student Cluster Competition Betting Odds are in!

November 15, 2017

The window has closed and the bettors are clutching their tickets, anxiously awaiting the results of the SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We’ve seen big chan Read more…

By Dan Olds

2017 Student Cluster Competition Benchmarks, Workloads, and Pre-Planned Disasters

November 15, 2017

The students competing in the 2017 Student Cluster Competition in Denver are facing a grueling 48 hour marathon of HPC benchmarks and real scientific applicatio Read more…

By Dan Olds

Nvidia Focuses Its Cloud Containers on HPC Applications

November 14, 2017

Having migrated its top-of-the-line datacenter GPU to the largest cloud vendors, Nvidia is touting its Volta architecture for a range of scientific computing ta Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Launches ARM-based Apollo System for HPC, AI

November 14, 2017

HPE doubled down on its memory-driven computing vision while expanding its processor portfolio with the announcement yesterday of the company’s first ARM-base Read more…

By Doug Black

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

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

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

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

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

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

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