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!

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing the bounds of what's possible in business and science, in w Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

April 18, 2019

Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expens Read more…

By John Russell

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer

April 18, 2019

Today, as part of our ongoing HPCwire People to Watch focus series, we are highlighting our interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer. Michela -- the General Chair of SC19 -- is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Bridging HPC and Cloud Native Development with Kubernetes

The HPC community has historically developed its own specialized software stack including schedulers, filesystems, developer tools, container technologies tuned for performance and large-scale on-premises deployments. Read more…

Intel Gold U-Series SKUs Reveal Single Socket Intentions

April 18, 2019

Intel plans to jump into the single socket market with a portion of its just announced Cascade Lake microprocessor line according to one media report. This isn’t a shocking surprise as many observers speculated Intel w Read more…

By John Russell

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Intel Gold U-Series SKUs Reveal Single Socket Intentions

April 18, 2019

Intel plans to jump into the single socket market with a portion of its just announced Cascade Lake microprocessor line according to one media report. This isn Read more…

By John Russell

BSC Researchers Shrink Floating Point Formats to Accelerate Deep Neural Network Training

April 15, 2019

Sometimes calculating solutions as precisely as a computer can wastes more CPU resources than is necessary. A case in point is with deep learning. In early stag Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Intel Extends FPGA Ecosystem with 10nm Agilex

April 11, 2019

The insatiable appetite for higher throughput and lower latency – particularly where edge analytics and AI, network functions, or for a range of datacenter ac Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Doubles Down on Medical AI

April 9, 2019

Nvidia is collaborating with medical groups to push GPU-powered AI tools into clinical settings, including radiology and drug discovery. The GPU leader said Monday it will collaborate with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide clinicians with its Clara AI tool kit. The partnership would allow radiologists to leverage AI techniques for diagnostic imaging using their own clinical data. Read more…

By George Leopold

Digging into MLPerf Benchmark Suite to Inform AI Infrastructure Decisions

April 9, 2019

With machine learning and deep learning storming into the datacenter, the new challenge is optimizing infrastructure choices to support diverse ML and DL workfl Read more…

By John Russell

AI and Enterprise Datacenters Boost HPC Server Revenues Past Expectations – Hyperion

April 9, 2019

Building on the big year of 2017 and spurred in part by the convergence of AI and HPC, global revenue for high performance servers jumped 15.6 percent last year Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This