Intel Expands HPC Collection with Whamcloud Buy

By Michael Feldman

July 16, 2012

Intel Corporation has acquired Whamcloud, a startup devoted to supporting the open source Lustre parallel file system and its user community. The deal marks the latest in a line of high performance computing acquisitions that Intel has made over the past few years to expand its HPC footprint.

Whamcloud was launched in July 2010, at a time when the Lustre technology and community were in turmoil. At that point, the Lustre IP, and more importantly, the Lustre brain trust (Peter Braam, Eric Barton, Robert Read, and others) were under the control of Oracle, which had inherited the technology and its principle developers when it acquired Sun Microsystems a year earlier.

Oracle, though, had little interest in the HPC user community, so many became worried that the technology and expertise would be set adrift under its new corporate masters. When former LLNL’er Brent Gorda came along and convinced Barton and Read to launch the Whamcloud venture, that marked the beginning of Lustre’s return to the HPC fold. Gorda became Whamcloud’s founding CEO, with Barton coming in as the CTO and Read filling the Principal Engineer role.

Over the past two years, Whamcloud has become one of the industry’s leading Lustre support vendors and had garnered a number of lucrative government contracts in that regard, including the recently announced exascale R&D project under the DOE. But now, at least some of Lustre’s future will once again depend on the good will of a large corporation.

The revelation of the acquisition was made quietly on Friday afternoon on Whamcloud’s own website http://www.whamcloud.com/news/intel-corporation-has-acquired-whamcloud/. So quietly in fact that Intel has not issued a press release on the deal, and is not offering much in the way of specifics, include the price it paid for the company. One can surmise it was not a huge amount (i.e., it was not a material acquisition), inasmuch as the deal did not have to go through government regulatory agencies for approval and no SEC filing was made.

Intel spokesman Jon Carvill did confirm that the entire Whamcloud team has joined Intel and will be working under the new High Performance Data Division (HPDD), which is part of newly established Datacenter Software Division. Gorda will take the reigns as the HPDD general manager.

As far as the general rationale for the acquisition, Carvill said Whamcloud will serve to “augment” its silicon portfolio with Lustre file system services. “At the end of the day, we think distributed parallel file systems are a key enabler for next-generation datacenters for HPC and the cloud,” he explained.

He also confirmed that Intel plans to continue supporting the Lustre code base under its open source framework, pointing out that the company recently became a member of OpenSFS, the non-profit consortium devoted to Lustre, specifically, and open scalable file systems, in general. “Ultimately, what it comes down to is we see scalable storage as critical to achieving exascale, and Lustre is an important technology to address this challenge,” said Carvill. “With the acquisition of Whamcloud, we’ve acquired key talent and technology to provide our customers with scalable storage solutions for HPC today, that will scale to exascale systems in the future.”

Access to exascale and other HPC technologies seems to be driving a number of Intel’s recent acquisitions including QLogic’s InfiniBand assets, Cray’s Aries interconnect, and further back, the parallel computing IP behind Cilk and RapidMind.
“Intel continues to assemble control over the puzzle pieces necessary for building optimized exascale systems,” said analyst Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360 Research. “One direct effect is that Intel is positioned to be the prime vendor on exascale contracts, which would allow Intel Xeon, including Xeon Phi, processors to compete directly against bids based on IBM Power processors, in Blue Gene systems, and NVIDIA GPUs.”

If that’s the case, Intel’s HPC spending spree will likely continue for awhile, since the chipmaker is still lacking technology expertise in areas like HPC system software, cluster management tools, and even HPC system and storage hardware, if it’s interested in playing that game.

Beyond Intel’s exascale aspirations, Snell thinks the company is interested bringing more system functionality on-chip. “We’ve seen the beginnings of this with features like Integrated I/O,” he explained.” The acquisition of Whamcloud could offer Intel key knowledge in integrating Lustre or other parallel file system optimization into the on-chip I/O channel.”

That could eventually lead to markets beyond HPC, in particular, the enterprise storage arena and the burgeoning big data application space. And since those are higher volume markets than supercomputing, Intel would certainly be interested in any leverage it could achieve there.

In the meantime, it will be business as usual for current Whamcloud customers with service contracts. No mention, however, was made of Chroma, Whamcloud’s new Lustre management application designed to run atop generic storage clusters. In fact, at this point the company is not divulging any product plans associated with Whamcloud developers or the newly hatched High Performance Data Division. For that, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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!

Cray+Azure: Can Cloud Propel Supercomputing?

October 23, 2017

Cray and Microsoft today announced they will offer dedicated Cray supercomputers (the XC and CS-Storm lines) inside the Azure platform allowing customers to run their HPC and AI applications alongside their other cloud w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 Sunway TaihuLight system and a third paper on 3D image recon Read more…

By John Russell

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together about 30 participants from industry, government and academia t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Transforming Genomic Analytics with HPC-Accelerated Insights

Advancements in the field of genomics are revolutionizing our understanding of human biology, rapidly accelerating the discovery and treatment of genetic diseases, and dramatically improving human health. Read more…

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray+Azure: Can Cloud Propel Supercomputing?

October 23, 2017

Cray and Microsoft today announced they will offer dedicated Cray supercomputers (the XC and CS-Storm lines) inside the Azure platform allowing customers to run Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

Student Cluster Competition Coverage New Home

October 16, 2017

Hello computer sports fans! This is the first of many (many!) articles covering the world-wide phenomenon of Student Cluster Competitions. Finally, the Student Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday, Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST

October 10, 2017

Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

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

Leading Solution Providers

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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