SoftLayer Rolls Out GPU-Powered HPC Cloud

By Tiffany Trader

April 17, 2012

The short-list of true HPC cloud providers just got a little longer. Infrastructure-as-a-Service vendor SoftLayer has added high-end NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to its line of dedicated servers. According to the company, use cases include computation-intensive projects such as data mining, numerical and seismic analysis as well as video processing and 3D rendering.

SoftLayer full server rowAs with all the company’s offerings, the HPC servers will be available in a range of configurations. As a point of reference, for $879.00 per-month, users will get the entry level model, an Intel Xeon E5-2620 Sandy Bridge-based server outfitted with one GPU, 16GB of RAM and 500GB of storage.

SoftLayer, which opened for business in early 2006, claims to be the largest privately-held Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider in the world with over 100,000 servers located in datacenters spanning North America, Europe and Asia. While the company already has 25,000 customers ranging from technology startups to global corporations, the HPC offering should help extend its reach even further.

SoftLayer’s product line can be categorized into three main solution types, dedicated, aka “bare metal,” servers with an operating system on-board (this includes the new HPC server offering), dedicated servers running a hypervisor for customers who prefer to manage their own virtual machines, and the CloudLayer Service for customers who want virtual machines in the cloud.

Customers take care of self-provisioning and self-management. This means they use either online ordering or connect with a sales rep to order customized hardware or virtual machine solutions. For example, if the customer is ordering a dedicated server, they’ll need to select the server configuration, the operating system, the type of hard drive, amount of RAM, and whether they want 10Gig or 1Gig server connections. There are a lot of options to choose from and the company says this helps distinguish it from the competition.

Of course, the big news here is that customers can now specify that they want a dedicated server with NVIDIA Tesla M2090 chips, which have the power to accelerate HPC workloads by up to 10x. SoftLayer’s HPC offering comprises dual-processor Intel E5-2600 Sandy Bridge-based servers supporting one or two NVIDIA Tesla M2090 GPUs. This best-in-class NVIDIA GPU delivers up to 665 gigaflops of double precision performance, 1.3 teraflops of single precision performance, ECC memory error protection, and L1 and L2 caches.

On the CPU side, Intel’s E5-2600 product family supports up to 8 cores per processor. Customers can select from the E5-2620, starting at $879, the E5-2650, starting at $1029, and the E5-2690, starting at $1179. Since this is an IaaS offering, support will naturally be limited to the network, the power, and the hardware, while software-level support will be up to the customers.

According to SoftLayer Chief Scientist Nathan Day, initial customer activity has come primarily from the oil and gas industry for companies that need to run seismic data workloads. The cloud provider is also seeing interest from the entertainment/media sector and content creators who use graphics processors for what they were originally designed, graphics processing. The science verticals tend to be the typical large HPC user, while on the entertainment and social media side, companies tend to be of the small-to-mid-size variety, or as Day puts it, “they are technically small businesses that are acting like like large enterprises in terms of their IT needs.”

Day expects that the hybrid HPC offering will pull in a lot of customers who need the power of GPUs to run their workloads. To that end, the use case is any application that can take advantage of the GPU. Likely candidates will come from the scientific, number-crunching domain, or the graphics processing, video transcoding, and content creation arena, Day says.

When asked what sets apart their offering from others in the space, Day was quick to point out the benefits of a bare metal solution for HPC users. “So they don’t have to pay the hypervisor tax,” he comments. While Day credits Amazon Web Services with helping to popularize cloud computing, he notes that Amazon only offers virtual cycles; it does not provide the raw access to hardware of a dedicated solution.

Another plus for customers, Day says, is SoftLayer’s wide variety of offerings and configurations. He also mentions the company’s global reach. Datacenter facilities in Dallas, Seattle, Washington DC, Houston, San Jose, Amsterdam, and Singapore are all integrated into the SoftLayer network, which provides customers with over 2,000 Gbps of connectivity between 13 datacenters and 16 points of presence (PoPs). Additional PoPs include Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Miami, London and Frankfurt. The geographically-dispersed approach was designed to bring connectivity closer to the user, which brings us to our next topic, latency.

It’s no surprise that HPC usually entails substantial data sets. Day says that it’s common to see data sets on the order of hundreds of GBs, which need to be moved into the cloud for processing. While SoftLayer’s robust network helps address latency concerns, it often makes more sense to transfer the data on a hard drive rather than deal with long upload times. For customers that are set up to perform deltas from the initial datasets, it’s mainly the initial setup that presents a challenge. Regardless, Day says it’s relatively easy to ship the data if necessary, which is exactly what their first HPC customer did. Subsequent customers are still doing calculations on how long the data transfer will take.

When asked the pivotal cloud question, why is it better to rent versus buy, Day responded that he expects to see a lot of project use initially as people start adapting to the model. “It’s certainly easier to come to SoftLayer and get a fleet of servers with GPUs for a few months than it is that go purchase them outright, put them in a datacenter and pay for all the care and feeding that goes along with having servers in the datacenter,” he says, adding the well-known cloud adage: “it basically takes what was a capital expense and makes it an operational expense to get the compute power to handle these workloads.”

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

SC17: Singularity Preps Version 3.0, Nears 1M Containers Served Daily

November 1, 2017

Just a few months ago about half a million jobs were being run daily using Singularity containers, the LBNL-founded container platform intended for HPC. That wa Read more…

By John Russell

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