HPC, Clouds & Big Data Converge at ISC Cloud 2012 – Part Two

By Tiffany Trader

October 2, 2012

The HPC cloud space is still a work in progress, but judging from a set of European conferences that took place this September, there is also actual progress to speak of. With GlobusEUROPE and EGI’s Technical Forum in Prague, Sept. 17-21, and ISC Cloud taking place in Mannheim, Germany, Sept. 24-25, there was an abundance of topics to cover. This article continues our coverage of the power-packed ISC Cloud event (read Part One here).

ISC Cloud, now in its third year, attracted nearly 150 participants with about 40 percent from academia, research or government spheres and the remaining 60 percent from industry. The various HPC cloud stakeholders were well-represented, which led to informed and engaged discussions both inside and outside the main presentation hall.

On the morning of day two, participants returned to the Dorint Congress Hotel in Mannheim for a series of talks on research clouds. Several more interesting sessions were also on the day’s agenda, including progress reports from four major HPC ISVs, a vendor showdown and three audience-selected Birds of a Feather sessions.

Moderated by Josh Simons of VMware, the panel on research clouds addressed whether “cloud computing is suitable for scientific computations and big data processing.” The academic and research community is seriously looking to cloud as a way to facilitate science, and there are numerous cloud testbeds currently underway. Helix Nebula is probably the most visible, but there are many smaller efforts across the US, Europe and beyond, working toward identifying use cases, gathering requirements, recording outcomes and establishing metrics.

In a talk called “Moving Beyond IT Outsourcing – Can Clouds Transform Science?” Manish Parashar of Rutgers University explored how the practice of science is being revolutionized by big compute and big data. While there are the obvious cloud candidates (loosely-coupled, nicely-parallel workloads with modest I/O requirements), Parashar is seeking to extend the boundary of cloud-suitability by using new application formulations and delivery models as well as hybrid usage models that combine HPC cloud and grid resources. He cited the CometCloud autonomic cloud-computing project as an example of such an integrated hybrid cloud infrastructure that is supporting science in an era of data-explosion. Parashar closed by calling on the community to combine the key strengths of HPC, grid and cloud in order to provide all these complementary benefits to users.

Next to the podium, David Wallom of the Oxford eResearch Centre delivered his talk on “Supporting research with flexible computational resources.” Wallom is part of the National Grid Service Agile Deployments Environments project, which is identifying use cases and gathering requirements toward the creation of a set of cloud services that are EC2 compatible and open source. Wallom echoed Parashar’s sentiments in saying “Cloud is part of the ecosystem, not the ecosystem,” but also concluded that “utilization of virtual infrastructure is the only scalable method to support [the] large number of disparate user communities.”

In his talk “Clouds and Security at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory,” Jens Jensen of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, asked whether we “can we trust the cloud with our data,” noting that cloud’s lack of single-sign on is a “big deal.” He pointed to the work of StratusLab and the ability to build a marketplace for virtual machine images as positive steps. In his conclusion, Jensen stressed the importance of hybrid cloud and the need for more interoperation between clouds.

Frédéric Desprez, chief senior research scientist at INRIA, rounded out the research cloud segment by discussing “DIET, a scalable platform for clusters, grids and clouds.” Desprez placed the current technology in its historical context, noting that Internet computing and storage have evolved from isolated nodes into what are now called clouds. He recalled papers that were written about distributed computing going back to the 60s and 70s and brought up the point that there have been many incarnations of grids and clouds.

>> NEXT: ISVs Move Closer to Cloud

Next on the agenda was the ISV panel, “Engineering Clouds – Commercial Software in the Cloud.” In half-hour blocks, representatives from CD-Adapco, ANSYS, SUMULIA and ESI gave product overviews and were pretty frank in discussing the balancing act that is cloud licensing, wanting to enable user needs without cannibalizing main revenue streams. While the major software vendors are sometimes assigned blame for being too slow in embracing the cloud and for contributing to the “licensing roadblock,” they are operating under the usual business mandate to drive profit. While alternative (cloud-based) licensing paradigms are potentially disruptive to the business model, they also have the potential to generate new revenue. Slow or not, all of these vendors have some kind of cloud licensing model in play – yet another data point for HPC cloud’s growing relevancy.

There’s still somewhat of a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to enabling software in the cloud through new licensing models, with the ISVs pointing to lack of user interest in cloud and the users pointing to lack of ISV support. That’s why events of this nature are so important to sparking discussion that in turn enables forward movement.

Taking this idea a step further, bringing key participants to the table to work out requirements and negotiate obstacles is the key mission behind the Uber Cloud Experiment, run by Wolfgang Gentzsch and Burak Yenier. The project brings together all the necessary stakeholders in order to deliver HPC resources to the underserved small-to-medium enterprise community, the so-called “missing middle.” About three months into the experiment the founders released a half-time report, which was covered in HPCwire last week. Current participants have voted overwhelmingly to extend the experiment and it’s been announced that Part Two will run from mid-November to mid-February.

Also included in the vendor panel (although removed thematically from the software licensing subject) was VMware’s resident HPC expert Josh Simons, delivering a talk on “HPC Performance in the Cloud: Status and Future Prospects.” Simons proposed bringing the benefits of cloud computing (in his VMware worldview, a virtualized cloud) to a wider range of HPC applications – making the point that the model of virtualization as this substantial layer between the application and the infrastructure is incorrect. Furthermore, when it comes to performance slowdowns caused by virtualization, the commonly-held assumptions and working figures are outdated, Simons noted.

This year’s ISC Cloud agenda was driven by a topic trifecta, the confluence of HPC, cloud and big data. The vendor showdown, planned and moderated by Intersect 360 analyst Addison Snell, provided a forum to explore these themes and to showcase vendors in a non-traditional, hopefully more interesting, way. Each of the representatives was allowed to introduce their company using only two PowerPoint slides, after which a series of questions was asked by Moderator Snell with a panel of three judges assigning a point to the best response. There were seven questions in all and three judges, leaving a total of 21 points up for grabs.

The idea that digital technology can confer advantages such as innovation and economic competitiveness was a main thrust of both this panel and the entire conference. On the one hand, the democratizing effect promises increased computational power to groups that have traditionally been underserved, but it also lowers the bar to entry, bringing digital tools to a brand-new community of users. When looked at through the lens of this kind of paradigm-changing potentiality, the HPC/cloud/big data trio could be the tide-booster that raises all ships.

Asked whether HPC was becoming easier, Bright Computing’s Matthijs van Leeuwen made the point that it better be or we’re not doing our job very well. SGI’s Tony DeVarco added that making products easier to use, for example by creating a portal with a drop-down menu, can be the key to increased adoption. Perhaps the most contentious comment of the show goes to Mellanox rep Eli Karpilovski, who stated that “big data is not a big deal in HPC because it’s been known and used for many years.” Snell disagreed and pegged the comment as dismissive of the many companies coming to big data for the first time. “They have applications that are different from the HPC applications that have been solved before,” he added.

All in all it was a very close race between Team Donner (comprised of HP’s Philippe Trautmann, IBM’s Chris Porter, Adaptec’s Alfred Berger, Samsung’s Peyman Blumstengel, and SGI’s Tony DeVarco) and Team Blitzen (with Intel’s Ullrich Becker-Lemgau, Bright Computing’s Matthijs van Leeuwen, Mellanox’s Eli Karpilovski, T-Systems’ Raik Dittrich, and Bull’s Olivier David). The contest was judged by Rolf Sperber of Alcatel-Lucent, Harald Kornmayer of DHBW Mannheim and yours truly representing HPC in the Cloud. Before the final question was asked, the score was Donner, 10, and Blitzen, 8. Blitzen needed the final three points to take the win, but Donner team’s response to a question about big data was more popular with the judges, earning Donner the win.

The vendor showdown signaled the end of the main conference session, but there was still one more item on the agenda, the BoFs. The session topics were selected on-the-fly this year, allowing participants to suggest and vote on the topics that mattered most to them. While security came up as a key concern during the two-day conference, the single biggest recurring theme was data movement – a subject which applies as well to big data as it does to cloud. So it was little surprise that “Data Transfer in/out of Clouds” was the most popular BoF topic, followed closely by “HPC Cloud Reference Architectures” and “Applications and software in the cloud.” An outline of each group’s findings is available here.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the HPC cloud space is making progress. We’re well versed with cloud’s sweet spot for embarrassingly-parallel workloads and its proscriptions on latency- and throughput-sensitive applications, but as we learned at the event, people are actively pushing to expand these boundaries. Community gatherings like ISC Cloud provide a point of perspective and an opportunity to gauge forward momentum. Comparing this year to last, it seems we may finally be done with the lengthy “definition” phase – making way for the testing and adoption stretch. The community has come to a consensus that “cloud” (in a broad sense) has value for HPC and is putting more of its resources into understanding and mining that value.

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!

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 23, 2017)

February 23, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPE Server Shows Low Latency on STAC-N1 Test

February 22, 2017

The performance of trade and match servers can be a critical differentiator for financial trading houses. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Financial Update (Feb. 2017)

February 22, 2017

In this recurring feature, we’ll provide you with financial highlights from companies in the HPC industry. Check back in regularly for an updated list with the most pertinent fiscal information. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Rethinking HPC Platforms for ‘Second Gen’ Applications

February 22, 2017

Just what constitutes HPC and how best to support it is a keen topic currently. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

O&G Companies Create Value with High Performance Remote Visualization

Today’s oil and gas (O&G) companies are striving to process datasets that have become not only tremendously large, but extremely complex. And the larger that data becomes, the harder it is to move and analyze it – particularly with a workforce that could be distributed between drilling sites, offshore rigs, and remote offices. Read more…

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

ExxonMobil, NCSA, Cray Scale Reservoir Simulation to 700,000+ Processors

February 17, 2017

In a scaling breakthrough for oil and gas discovery, ExxonMobil geoscientists report they have harnessed the power of 717,000 processors – the equivalent of 22,000 32-processor computers – to run complex oil and gas reservoir simulation models. Read more…

By Doug Black

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Cray Posts Best-Ever Quarter, Visibility Still Limited

February 10, 2017

On its Wednesday earnings call, Cray announced the largest revenue quarter in the company’s history and the second-highest revenue year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

KNUPATH Hermosa-based Commercial Boards Expected in Q1 2017

December 15, 2016

Last June tech start-up KnuEdge emerged from stealth mode to begin spreading the word about its new processor and fabric technology that’s been roughly a decade in the making. Read more…

By John Russell

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