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!

Pfizer HPC Engineer Aims to Automate Software Stack Testing

January 17, 2019

Seeking to reign in the tediousness of manual software testing, Pfizer HPC Engineer Shahzeb Siddiqui is developing an open source software tool called buildtest, aimed at automating software stack testing by providing the community with a central repository of tests for common HPC apps and the ability to automate execution of testing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Senegal Prepares to Take Delivery of Atos Supercomputer

January 16, 2019

In just a few months time, Senegal will be operating the second largest HPC system in sub-Saharan Africa. The Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mary Teuw Niane made the announcement on Monday (Jan. 14 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three big public cloud vendors has by turn touted the latest and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Resource Management in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

New challenges demand fresh approaches

Fueled by GPUs, big data, and rapid advances in software, the AI revolution is upon us. Read more…

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchmark or suite of benchmarking tools to compare the performanc Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchm Read more…

By John Russell

A Big Data Journey While Seeking to Catalog our Universe

January 16, 2019

It turns out, astronomers have lots of photos of the sky but seek knowledge about what the photos mean. Sound familiar? Big data problems are often characterize Read more…

By James Reinders

Intel Bets Big on 2-Track Quantum Strategy

January 15, 2019

Quantum computing has lived so long in the future it’s taken on a futuristic life of its own, with a Gartner-style hype cycle that includes triggers of innovation, inflated expectations and – though a useful quantum system is still years away – anticipatory troughs of disillusionment. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

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

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

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

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

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

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