Intel Debuts New HPC Cluster Tool Suite

By Michael Feldman

November 8, 2011

This week Intel unveiled its upmarket version of its Cluster Studio offering aimed at performance-minded MPI application developers. Called Cluster Studio XE, the jazzed-up developer suite adds Intel analysis tools to make it easier for programmers to optimize and tune codes for maximum performance. It also includes the latest compilers, runtimes, and MPI library to keep pace with the new developments in parallel programming.

Intel Cluster Studio, which used to be sold as Cluster Toolkit, includes the same set of C/C++ and Fortran compilers as Intel’s Parallel Studio product, but also comes with MPI support for HPC cluster programmers. These include Intel’s own MPI library and the Trace Analyzer and Collector. The latter is used for visualizing MPI communications and load balancing to help developers test and tune their cluster applications

In addition, Cluster Studio includes the usual Intel smorgasbord of its parallel language frameworks, including Cilk Plus, Threading Building Blocks (TBB), OpenCL, and OpenMP. The only significant tool missing in the suite is a debugger. But since the Intel tools are compatible with Rogue Waves’s TotalView debugger as well as Allinea’s DDT, developers needn’t go without.

The big additions to the XE version of Cluster studio are a couple of performance tools: VTune Amplifier XE and Inspector XE, both of which operate in the shared memory environment at the node level. One might wonder why node-level tools have been included in the cluster toolset at all, but according to James Reinders, who directs Intel’s software group, more and more cluster codes are moving toward a hybrid MPI/OpenMP (distributed/shared memory) programming model, which makes the multithreaded behavior in the node level critical to performance. Reinders says that as the compute nodes have gotten fatter, it’s more important know what’s going on inside the nodes.

The trend he’s referring to is the increasing number of cores one can obtain in single node. Using the latest x86 chips, even a standard dual-socket box can house 16 cores (32 threads) with the new Xeon E5 chip or 32 cores in the case of AMD’s Opteron 6200. And if Intel has it’s way, HPC nodes will soon come equipped with its upcoming Many Integrated Core (MIC) coprocessors, which will triple or perhaps quadruple that core count. Whether its MICs, GPUs, or just straight CPUs, core counts appear to be on an upward trajectory that will be expanding the waistline of HPC nodes for the foreseeable future. “It’s like an obesity epidemic in computers,” says Reinders.

In a nutshell, that’s the rationale for including the shared-memory tools. For example, VTune Amplifier XE, which already comes standard in the Parallel Studio XE suite, enables developers to look at thread behavior on the nodes. The tool allows them to pinpoint bottlenecks due to idle cores or non-optimal cache usage. It also finds hotspots where the code is spending large amounts of time.

The second tool included in Cluster Studio XE is Inspector XE (formerly known as Thread Checker), which, again is directed at optimized application execution on the node, in this case, checking for thread and memory correctness. Specifically, Inspector can find instances of memory leaks, race conditions and potential deadlocks. This is not so much a performance issue as one of application robustness, enabling developers to detect latent errors in the code, even when the defect is not apparent in most runtime scenarios.

Although Both VTune Amplifier and Inspector XE operate at the node level, each has been extended to work in an distributed MPI model. Essentially, the tools collect their data at the node level, but the results are aggregated and organized on based on MPI rank (process ID), which allows the developers to see the analysis in context to the overall operation of the program.

Of course, if the programmer wanted to do this type of analysis before, he could have purchased the standalone tools separately and extracted the data on a node-by-node basis. But that’s a rather painful process once you get beyond a handful of servers. According to Reinders, users wanted to visualize the behavior in these nodes as part of the whole picture across the cluster.

At the same time that nodes are getting fatter, the number of nodes is still increasing. This is reflected in the TOP500 computers’ aggregate performance, which is growing at twice the rate of Moore’s Law. To keep pace with the growth of scale-out clusters, Intel engineers have been busy tweaking their MPI library.

According to Reinders, their latest MPI library, version 4.0, can now scale beyond 90,000 processes, which is quite a bit better than was supported just a year ago. The better scaling is the result of enhancements to MPICH2, which is used as a foundation for Intel’s MPI offering, as well as some custom tuning.

Intel also claims industry-leading performance for its latest library. According to latency tests for a 96-process application running on a 8-node machine, the Intel implementation delivers better performance than other leading MPI libraries, such as Microsoft MPI 3.2, Platform MPI 8.1.1, MVAPICH 1.6, and OpenMPI 1.5.4.

The differences tended to be largest when compared to the open source OpenMPI package. In one case, the Intel implementation was 2.6 times as fast. “OpenMPI is very popular and I think a lot of users don’t understand how much performance they’re giving up by not going to one of the commercial MPI libraries,” says Reinders. Intel’s MPI library is also fabric independent, making it a popular choice with ISVs, who want to minimize the number of shipping binaries corresponding to each interconnect fabric they support.

Like all of Intel’s parallel tool suites, Cluster Studio XE is designed to work across its own multicore x86 CPU products as well as those of AMD’s. The company is now in the process of extending these tools to support manycore, and for Intel that means their upcoming Many Integrated Core (MIC) product. Reinders says almost all these tools have versions that support the MIC prototype (Knights Ferry) today, although some of the MPI tools are not as fully developed as they are for the compilers and runtimes. When they do launch the production Knights Corner MIC product a year or so from now, all of these parallel tools will support the manycore architecture in a more or less transparent fashion.

Cluster Studio XE is sold by developer seat, and is priced according to OS support: $2,849 for the Window version; $2,499 for the Linux one. Those prices are $1,000 more per seat than the vanilla Cluster Studio without the performance tools. Of course, Intel would love upsell all their customers to the XE level, but Reinders admits that not all developers will want or need this extra functionality. In general, only the performance gurus who perform code tuning across the application will be interested in the premier XE package. Says Reinders: “Those people need to have these tools in their hands, and I think they’ll find great results with them.”

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!

ExxonMobil, NCSA, Cray Scale Reservoir Simulation to 700,000+ Processors

February 17, 2017

In a scaling breakthrough for oil and gas discovery, ExxonMobil geoscientists report they have harnessed the power of 717,000 processors – the equivalent of 22,000 32-processor computers – to run complex oil and gas reservoir simulation models. Read more…

By Doug Black

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 new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). 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 will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Object Storage is the Ideal Storage Method for CME Companies

The communications, media, and entertainment (CME) sector is experiencing a massive paradigm shift driven by rising data volumes and the demand for high-performance data analytics. Read more…

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 16, 2017)

February 16, 2017

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

Alexander Named Dep. Dir. of Brookhaven Computational Initiative

February 15, 2017

Francis Alexander, a physicist with extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research, has been named Deputy Director of the Computational Science Initiative at the U.S. Read more…

Here’s What a Neural Net Looks Like On the Inside

February 15, 2017

Ever wonder what the inside of a machine learning model looks like? Today Graphcore released fascinating images that show how the computational graph concept maps to a new graph processor and graph programming framework it’s creating. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

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 new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). 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 will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

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 was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Cray Posts Best-Ever Quarter, Visibility Still Limited

February 10, 2017

On its Wednesday earnings call, Cray announced the largest revenue quarter in the company’s history and the second-highest revenue year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Cloud Startup Launches ‘App Store’ for HPC Workflows

February 9, 2017

“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. 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

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

KNUPATH Hermosa-based Commercial Boards Expected in Q1 2017

December 15, 2016

Last June tech start-up KnuEdge emerged from stealth mode to begin spreading the word about its new processor and fabric technology that’s been roughly a decade in the making. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

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