Cray CEO and VP-EMEA Talk Europe, China, GPUs and More

By Nicole Hemsoth

June 21, 2011

Cray enters the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) with a new generation of its flagship and midrange supercomputer lines, renewed momentum in Europe, and fresh perspectives on HPC market trends and technologies. HPCwire talked with Cray CEO Pete Ungaro and Ulla Thiel, vice president, EMEA, to get their perspective on the company’s successes, challenges, and future plans.

HPCwire: What is Cray talking about this year at ISC?

Peter Ungaro: First off, we are very excited to be back at ISC again this year. For years, ISC has played a very important role in HPC, not only because it is a great HPC conference, but because it has also served to highlight Europe’s important role in the worldwide supercomputing community. It’s a great week, and we look forward to it every year.

The 2011 conference comes at an exciting time for us, as we just launched our new Cray XK6 and XK6m supercomputers at the Cray User Group meeting a few weeks back. The Cray XK6 is our first high-end GPU system, and it combines NVIDIA Tesla GPUs and the upcoming Interlagos processors from AMD with our own Gemini interconnect. We’re seeing a steady stream of visitors stopping by our booth and checking out the new the Cray XK6 blades, which we will have on display throughout the show. The system is scalable from a single cabinet to more than 50 petaflops, so it’s definitely worth a peek.

HPCwire: How important is Europe for Cray?

Ungaro: Well, we have a good run of contract wins in Europe over the last few years, so I would say Europe is really important for Cray! In all seriousness, Europe has been a big part of our recent growth and success as a company, with a number of large Cray systems going into customer sites throughout the continent. Just over the last few months, we’ve signed new contracts with leading European centers such as HLRS in Stuttgart, Germany, HECToR at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, CSCS in Manno, Switzerland, Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany and a number of others.

It has been an incredible run of success for us, and we are working hard and doing our best to see that it continues. We’ve been hiring quite a bit in Europe across R&D, sales and service positions, and we still have a number of openings to fill. The HPC market in Europe is growing and it will continue to be a very important market for Cray well into the future.

HPCwire: What’s the status of the plan to install a PRACE petaflop system at HLRS in Stuttgart? What will that system be used for?

Ulla Thiel: The HLRS petaflop system is scheduled to be installed in the fall. We were very excited to hear that this new Cray XE6 system at HLRS will be a PRACE Tier-0 system. It is one of three Tier-0 systems in Europe, of course bringing the latest and greatest technology to the table. The Cray system, which HLRS is already calling “HERMIT,” will also be the first Cray supercomputer outside the United States running at over a petaflops performance. Needless to say, we are very happy about our collaboration with HLRS and we are looking forward to seeing the great science that will be produced on this system within the HLRS and PRACE user communities. 

HLRS has strong partnerships in the automotive and aerospace industries. As a member of the Gauss Center for Supercomputing, which is an alliance of the three major supercomputing centers in Germany, HERMIT will be a significant resource for users in the research and industrial HPC communities in Europe and beyond. Also, Cray and HLRS will undertake joint research activities in application areas within engineering sciences, which are also of interest to the automotive industry.

HPCwire: Is there anything different about the HPC market dynamics in Europe?

Thiel: The European HPC market is actually quite different from the HPC market in the U.S., most notably for its absence of a wide array of companies that develop supercomputers. However, Europe is very strong in the development of all kinds of software as well as in the applications space. Additionally, the European-wide HPC initiatives such as DEISA and PRACE have fostered a close collaboration between European countries. This collaboration has strengthened the industrial usage of supercomputing technologies and paved the way for future innovation, resulting in emerging technologies and economic exploitation in a variety of areas that have novel benefits for society.

HPCwire: You announced your Exascale Research Initiative at the end of 2009, with Edinburgh and Switzerland’s CSCS as collaborators. How is that going?

Thiel: It’s going great, and we are very pleased with how the initiative continues to grow in terms of the scale and the number of projects it’s working on. Cray has made a big investment in R&D in Europe as part of this research initiative, which has allowed us to bring some excellent talent into the company. Exascale is big part of our R&D focus right now, and a lot of this work is being done in conjunction with our initiative in Europe, as well as through collaborations with other institutions around the world.

We like to believe that a Cray supercomputer will run an application with a sustained performance of over an exaflop by the end of the decade. It’s ambitious, we know, but with our significant R&D efforts in Europe and around the world, we’re doing everything we can to put a production exascale supercomputer into the hands of researchers, scientists and engineers.

HPCwire: What is Cray doing in Asia and how important is that market for you?

Ungaro: The Asia-Pacific market is another big growth area for Cray. We have had a number of successes and great customer partnerships in countries such as Japan, India, Australia and Korea, and we continue to expand into other countries. The earth sciences segment has been especially strong for Cray in Asia Pacific, and a great example of this is at the Korean Meteorological Administration, where their Cray XE6 is one of the largest operational weather forecasting systems in the world. We are pursuing new opportunities across this region, and we believe that it will continue to be an important part of our growth strategy in the future.

HPCwire: Can Cray break into the Chinese market?

Ungaro: One of the most exciting things I’ve seen over the last 20 years in HPC is the recent serious entrance of new countries into the supercomputing market, and that includes China. We have all heard about China’s recent supercomputing accomplishments and I must admit that they are quite impressive. China is demonstrating a real dedication to building large supercomputing systems and building computational sciences expertise. That being said, we believe there is a place for Cray supercomputers and technology in China. In fact, we are looking into establishing a subsidiary in Beijing and we hope to have something to announce on this soon. China has an interesting and expanding HPC marketplace and we believe we can add value there.

HPCwire: What role do GPUs play in Cray’s strategy and for your customers?

Ungaro: One of the key elements of our new GPU systems, the Cray XK6 and XK6m, is the software environment we are developing — and that’s where we truly believe the system will provide key benefits for customers looking to take advantage of GPUs. As we said at times during the launch, Cray isn’t the first to the GPU party, but we believe we have the best solution because the system has hardware that is fully integrated with software from Cray and from our partners. It’s a complete supercomputer that allows our customers to leverage both CPUs and GPUs by providing a single programming model across both environments. Customers can have a single version of their code running across both computing architectures. 

GPUs will be an ongoing part of Cray supercomputers in the future, and we will continue to evolve our systems in line with our Adaptive Supercomputing vision, which means integrating diverse processing technologies into a unified architecture. We will look at other accelerator technologies in keeping with this vision, so long as they provide a benefit for our customers. We also plan on leveraging accelerators all the way to our exascale systems planned for the end of the decade. Even our Custom Engineering organization is offering some unique GPU configurations with different ratios of GPUs to CPUs than are currently found in our XK6 system.

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!

Talk to Me: Nvidia Claims NLP Inference, Training Records

August 15, 2019

Nvidia says it’s achieved significant advances in conversation natural language processing (NLP) training and inference, enabling more complex, immediate-response interchanges between customers and chatbots. And the co Read more…

By Doug Black

Trump Administration and NIST Issue AI Standards Development Plan

August 14, 2019

Efforts to develop AI are gathering steam fast. On Monday, the White House issued a federal plan to help develop technical standards for AI following up on a mandate contained in the Administration’s AI Executive Order Read more…

By John Russell

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a good understanding of the early universe, its fate billions Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AWS Solution Channel

Efficiency and Cost-Optimization for HPC Workloads – AWS Batch and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

High Performance Computing on AWS leverages the power of cloud computing and the extreme scale it offers to achieve optimal HPC price/performance. With AWS you can right size your services to meet exactly the capacity requirements you need without having to overprovision or compromise capacity. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the combined power of HPC and AI to your business transformation

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Cloudy with a Chance of Mainframes

[Connect with HPC users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community.]

Rapid rates of change sometimes result in unexpected bedfellows. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Accelerates Cancer Prediction Research

August 13, 2019

In the fight against cancer, early prediction, which drastically improves prognoses, is critical. Now, new research by a team from Northwestern University – and accelerated by supercomputing resources at Argonne Nation Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AI is the Next Exascale – Rick Stevens on What that Means and Why It’s Important

August 13, 2019

Twelve years ago the Department of Energy (DOE) was just beginning to explore what an exascale computing program might look like and what it might accomplish. Today, DOE is repeating that process for AI, once again starting with science community town halls to gather input and stimulate conversation. The town hall program... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader and John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Drives Single-Socket Servers with AMD Epyc Rome CPUs

August 7, 2019

No summer doldrums here. As part of the AMD Epyc Rome launch event in San Francisco today, Lenovo announced two new single-socket servers, the ThinkSystem SR635 Read more…

By Doug Black

Building Diversity and Broader Engagement in the HPC Community

August 7, 2019

Increasing diversity and inclusion in HPC is a community-building effort. Representation of both issues and individuals matters - the more people see HPC in a w Read more…

By AJ Lauer

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Upcoming NSF Cyberinfrastructure Projects to Support ‘Long-Tail’ Users, AI and Big Data

August 5, 2019

The National Science Foundation is well positioned to support national priorities, as new NSF-funded HPC systems to come online in the upcoming year promise to Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

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