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!

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled o Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Intel Touts Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

February 14, 2018

Debate around what makes a good qubit and how best to manufacture them is a sprawling topic. There are many insistent voices favoring one or another approach. Referencing a paper published today in Nature, Intel has offe Read more…

By John Russell

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Safeguard Your HPC Environment with the World’s Most Secure Industry Standard Servers

Today’s organizations operate in an environment with ever-evolving threats, and in order to protect themselves they must continuously bolster their security strategy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel® are addressing modern security challenges with the world’s most secure industry standard servers powered by the latest generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Read more…

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended to make it easier, faster and cheaper to train and run machi Read more…

By Doug Black

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth

February 8, 2018

The driving force behind Singularity, the popular HPC container technology, is bringing the open source platform to the enterprise with the launch of a new vent Read more…

By George Leopold

Dell EMC Debuts PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Chips

February 6, 2018

AMD notched another EPYC processor win today with Dell EMC’s introduction of three PowerEdge servers (R6415, R7415, and R7425) based on the EPYC 7000-series p Read more…

By John Russell

‘Next Generation’ Universe Simulation Is Most Advanced Yet

February 5, 2018

The research group that gave us the most detailed time-lapse simulation of the universe’s evolution in 2014, spanning 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, is back in the spotlight with an even more advanced cosmological model that is providing new insights into how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed, and where magnetic fields originate. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

2017 Gordon Bell Prize Finalists Named

October 23, 2017

The three finalists for this year’s Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing have been announced. They include two papers on projects run on China’s Read more…

By John Russell

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