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!

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 “pre-exascale” award), parsed out additional information ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid whoops and hollers from the crowd, Thomas Sterling presented t Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out plans to push deeper into climate science and develop more gran Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale companies and their embrace of AI and deep learning – tha Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Creating a Roadmap for HPC Innovation at ISC 2017

In an era where technological advancements are driving innovation to every sector, and powering major economic and scientific breakthroughs, high performance computing (HPC) is crucial to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Read more…

At ISC – Goh on Go: Humans Can’t Scale, the Data-Centric Learning Machine Can

June 22, 2017

I've seen the future this week at ISC, it’s on display in prototype or Powerpoint form, and it’s going to dumbfound you. The future is an AI neural network designed to emulate and compete with the human brain. In thi Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray Brings AI and HPC Together on Flagship Supers

June 20, 2017

Cray took one more step toward the convergence of big data and high performance computing (HPC) today when it announced that it’s adding a full suite of big data and artificial intelligence software to its top-of-the-l Read more…

By Alex Woodie

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “global” launch event in Austin TX. In many ways it was a fu Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it, analysts and journalists want to report on it. Deep learni Read more…

By Doug Black

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

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid wh Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out pla Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale Read more…

By Doug Black

At ISC – Goh on Go: Humans Can’t Scale, the Data-Centric Learning Machine Can

June 22, 2017

I've seen the future this week at ISC, it’s on display in prototype or Powerpoint form, and it’s going to dumbfound you. The future is an AI neural network Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray Brings AI and HPC Together on Flagship Supers

June 20, 2017

Cray took one more step toward the convergence of big data and high performance computing (HPC) today when it announced that it’s adding a full suite of big d Read more…

By Alex Woodie

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “g Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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