SC12: Supercomputing with a Helping of Cloud

By Tiffany Trader

November 12, 2012

For the HPC community, the week of Supercomputing (SC) is the most active and exciting time of the year. A colleague of mind postulated earlier today that half of the year’s news cycle is squeezed into SC, while the other half is distributed among the other 51 weeks of the year. (Anyone want to graph that distribution problem?)

Speaking of distribution, distributed computing and the concepts ensconced in grid and cloud computing have been a big part of the SC show for…well since it started 24 years ago. But in the past few years, it’s “cloud” that has gone from buzz word to ubiquity. While cloud computing has gained credibility and acceptance in business circles, the science and research community has been a bit more circumspect. The cloud (however you define it) is still not for the most-demanding HPC workloads, the ones at the top of the performance pyramid, and likely never will be, but that doesn’t matter because there are more and more scenarios that do make sense. If you want to know where that needle is and even get to watch it move, then SC12 is the place to be.

Taking place this week in Provo, Utah, SC12 has attracted the largest number of technical submissions in the event’s history, and the Technical Forum includes an impressive lineup of invited talks, research papers, tutorials, panels, workshops, research posters, and Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions. More than 20 of these sessions are devoted to some branch of the cloud tree and I’m sure we’ll all be hearing these key phrases (and big data as well) all over the show floor and into the hallway meetings. Without further ado, here’s a rundown on the cloudy side of the Technical Program.

Data Intensive Computing in the Clouds

“As scientific applications become more data intensive, the management of data resources and dataflow between storage and compute resources is becoming the main bottleneck. Analyzing, visualizing, and disseminating these large data sets has become a major challenge,” writes the organizers for the The Third International Workshop on Data-Intensive Computing in the Clouds – DataCloud (DataCloud 2012) in their call for papers. The group came together for an all-day meeting on Sunday to discuss the challenges associated with running data-intensive workloads in the cloud. The event was organized by Tevfir Kosar, associate professor and director of the Data Intensive Distributed Computing Laboratory at the University of Buffalo, Ioan Raicu, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science (CS) at Illinois Institute of Technology, and Roger Barga, architect and group lead in the eXtreme Computing Group (XCG), part of Microsoft Research. When it comes to handling data-intensive workloads, they are are concerned that current supercomputers, grids and clouds fall short. Their agenda is focused on identifying current issues and setting goals for cloud-based technologies that will be better matched for the data deluge.

Securing Your Middleware

Taking place Monday morning is a tutorial on Secure Coding Practices for Grid and Cloud Middleware and Services, presented by Barton Miller, Elisa Heymann. In this new cloud era, security is more important than ever. In survey after survey, security is cited as a top concern among would-be cloud users. This tutorial brings awareness to some of the best practices to help minimize security flaws in software at the coding level. The presenters share what they have learned from their experience assessing real-life cloud and middleware systems, including Google Chrome, Wireshark, Condor, SDSC Storage Resource Broker, NCSA MyProxy, INFN VOMS Admin and Core, among others. Examples are in Java, C, C++, Perl and Python.

Helping Science Tap Cloud’s Potential

Another Monday cloud tutorial examines Infrastructure Clouds and Elastic Services for Science. The outsourcing of IT shows no signs of stopping. It seems like every week another infrastructure-as-a-service provider is launching a cloud for the business world, but what about the science and research community? Increasingly, academia is looking to cloud as a way around either insufficient resources or congested queue times, but information is lacking on whether the resource used is the most suitable one. The presenters of this session – John Bresnahan and Kate Keahey of Argonne National Laborator, and Patrick Armstrong and Pierre Riteau of the University of Chicago – emphasize that the research world will benefit from a better understanding of the cloud paradigm. Their goal is to design a cloud-based infrastructure with elastic tools that specifically targets the requirements of the scientific community. Key issues to the panel are performance, elasticity and privacy. This is an all-day event.

Many-Task Computing

Also taking place on Monday is the The 5th Workshop on Many-Task Computing on Grids and Supercomputers (MTAGS) 2012 with Ioan Raicu of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ian Foster from Argonne National Laboratory, and Yong Zhao of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. The all-day session will highlight the development, and deployment efforts of large-scale many-task computing (MTC) applications on a wide range system types, including large scale clusters, grids, supercomputers, and clouds. Loosely coupled applications will be a key theme, as will the common obstacles to running applications on large-scale systems. These can involve local resource manager scalability and granularity, efficient utilization of raw hardware, parallel file-system contention and scalability, data management, I/O management, reliability at scale, and application scalability. The challenges of MTAGS in relation to petascale and exascale systems is another key topic.

Next Page >>

The Remote Technical Cloud

On Tuesday, The Technical Cloud: When Remote 3D Visualization meets HPC promises to be an interesting exhibitor forum for workstation-based users (or their administrators), who face multiple challenges in regard to their post-processing work. Data access speed, rapid obsolescence, heat, noise, and application availability are commonplace in this setting. While virtualization and remote desktop solutions are helping many users address these pain points in other spaces, these technologies are still fairly rare in the technical computing space because VDI did not support the sharing of GPUs. Andrea Rodolico of NICE will show how NICE Desktop Cloud Visualization (DCV) can provide access to fully accelerated, OpenGL applications in a remote capacity on Windows or Linux. When pixels are transferred instead of data, the result is an increase in application performance, security and manageability, according to NICE. Multiple usage scenarios to be demonstrated include both physical and virtual deployments with dedicated GPU, shared GPU as well as acceleration using an external GPU appliance.

Vendor Perspective: AMD & Adaptive

In another exhibitor forum, John Gustafson gives an AMD HPC Technology Update, delivering a 30-minute presentation on HPC in the Cloud and advanced technologies. Following that session, Adaptive Computing’s Brady Kimball explores the HPC Cloud ROI and Opportunities Cloud Brings to HPC in another exhibitor forum. The message is that HPC system managers can leverage the benefits of cloud for their traditional HPC environments, especially for surge and peak loads.

Three Birds-of-a-Feather

In this one-hour Birds-of-a-Feather session, Robert Grossman from the University of Chicago and Heidi Alvarez from the Florida International University will speak about Collaborative Opportunities with the Open Science Data Cloud. The Open Science Data Cloud (OSDC) was formed to help scientists field increasingly-complex data management challenges.

In another BOF, researchers from Argonne and INRIA will address the importance of Interoperability in Scientific Cloud Federations. They believe that federation can be achieved through a combination of open standards and protocols or through the use of a specific middleware to connect services to cloud providers. These topics will be addressed in relation to both IaaS and PaaS models.

Yet another BOF examines the important topic: HPC Cloud: Can Infrastructure Clouds Provide a Viable Platform for HPC? Led by Argonne National Laboratory’s Kate Keahey, the presenters are bringing together key HPC stakeholders to explore what cloud viability concerns still remain despite the increased popularity of cloud services. The group’s primary objective is to locate the cutting-edge of HPC cloud and to identify the next steps.

Pay as You Go, One Watt at a Time

Pay as You Go in the Cloud: One Watt at a Time is the title of an ACM Student Research Competition Poster Session, from Yale University’s Kayo Teramoto. The session, chaired by Torsten Hoefler of ETH Zurich looks at the practice of selling virtual machines to consumers on an hourly basis. Teramoto believes the current pricing scheme employed by cloud computing fails to reflect variances from user to user, and as an alternative proposes “a new pricing model based on the liable power consumption of the VM, which correlates to the VM’s proportion of CPU and disk I/O usage.” The poster sets out to prove the fairness and practicality of their model using four consumer examples.

Cloud Storage Brokering

In a paper session chaired by Manish Parashar of Rutgers University, the authors, who hail from EPFL, introduce Scalia: An Adaptive Scheme for Efficient Multi-Cloud Storage. Scalia is described as “a cloud storage brokerage solution that continuously adapts the placement of data based on its access pattern and subject to optimization objectives, such as storage costs.” The service is said to achieve significant cost reductions by re-positioning only selected objects.

Science-as-a-Service

On Wednesday, Manish Parashar of Rutgers University will be the primary session leader for a BOF on Science-as-a-Service: Exploring Clouds for Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering. The presenters, which also include Geoffrey Fox of Indiana University, Kate Keahey of Argonne National Laboratory, and David Lifka of Cornell University, will address the use of clusters and grids for scientific exploration and discovery. These researchers believe that understanding a hybrid infrastructure and how application workflows can effectively utilize it is key to progress. This session will explore how clouds can best be implemented to support real-world science and engineering applications. Research challenges – from both a computer science and an applications perspective – will be included, as will the community research agenda.

Meeting the Needs of Science Apps

In this Doctoral Showcase, Towards Scalable and Efficient Scientific Cloud Computing, Wojtek James Goscinski of Monash University and Iman Sadooghi of Illinois Institute of Technology investigate the use of public clouds as a source of computing infrastructure for researchers who don’t have access to the biggest and best systems. They explore the ability of clouds to support the unique needs of scientific applications, including software requirements like batch scheduling, parallel and distributed POSIX-compliant file systems, and hardware requirements like fast interconnects, and so on. They’re also looking at low-overhead virtualization techniques.

Next Page >>

Learn About HPC Cloud and Big Data Analytics from IBM

On Thursday, the half-hour IBM exhibitor forum, HPC Cloud and Big Data Analytics – Transforming High Performance Technical Computing, will be led by IBM Platform’s Chris Porter and Scott Campbell. The presenters make the case that big data and cloud computing have transitioned from trending topics to key-enabling technologies. Cloud and workload management platforms can turn silo’d computing resources into a dynamic shared resource pool for both compute- and data-intensive applications, providing benefits such as flexibility, ease of access, reduced management overhead, and optimal resource utilization.

Learn About Windows Azure

In another half-hour exhibitor forum, Alex Sutton from Microsoft explores the business case for Azure and Windows HPC in the Cloud. Like other public cloud platforms, Azure offers on-demand, pay-as-you-go access to scalable compute and storage resources. The company says that what sets them apart is the ability to use Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 on Windows Azure, which provides “a comprehensive and cost-effective solution that delivers high performance while providing a unified solution for running compute and data intensive HPC applications on Windows Azure and on premises.”

 Self-Management for Volunteer Grids

In a Thursday grid computing paper session, Trilce Estrada and Michela Taufer of the University of Delaware highlight the drawbacks of manual intervention. On the Effectiveness of Application-Aware Self-Management for Scientific Discovery in Volunteer Computing Systems will showcase “an application-aware modular framework that provides self-management for computational multiscale applications in volunteer computing (VC).” Jim Basney from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is the session chair. The authors’ algorithm KOTree provides application-aware self-management in VC system, and what’s more, they claim it is capable of accurately predicting the expected length of new jobs, leading to an average of 85 percent increased throughput with respect to other algorithms.

Sustainable HPC Cloud Computing

A four-hour workshop takes place on Friday to tackle the important topic of Sustainable HPC Cloud Computing 2012. On the commercial side, there is a robust business case for cloud, however the success of cloud in the HPC sphere has been more limited. This workshop, led by Justin Y. Shi of Temple University, Pavan Balaji of Argonne National Laboratory, and Abdallah Khreishah from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, investigates the technologies that will help cloud meet the special requirements of HPCers. The workshop presenters have brought together a group of researchers to report on performance studies involving a range of computing systems – from the traditional HPC cluster to GPUs for the cloud.

Will Cloud Transform the Film Industry?

Did you know that cloud computing is increasingly the enabling-technology behind your favorite animated films? In this Friday morning panel, Is the Cloud a Game Changer for the Film Industry, Pixar and GreenButton discuss their recently launched cloud-based rendering service. Aimed at the film industry, the service is based on the Windows Azure platform, and connects studios to the cloud, where they can render large production movies. The presenters say this is a game changer for the industry because it gives smaller studios a way to compete with major production companies because it doesn’t involve an expensive capital outlay. One day soon an Oscar will be won by a studio with a globally-distributed workforce but without a major production system.

Final Thoughts

Cloud started to gain a visible show presence at SC10, but we also saw resistance and pushback. As the use cases for cloud started to accumulate, it gained greater relevancy and acceptance, and this was reflected at last year’s show. The hard work of the research community and the growing ubiquity of the Amazon EC2 cloud helped the subject gain visibility, as did popular stories like Cycle’s 50,000 core virtual supercomputer.

In the past year, HPC cloud has continued to gain momentum as the community reached past the “what”and “why” stages and onto the more difficult “how” stage. Cloud, with or without virtualization, is not for every HPC workload, but for a segment of applications and segment of researchers, it’s growing into a more viable option every year. We’ve seen middleware advances and several IaaS providers have added HPC-friendly hardware, complete with GPUs and InfiniBand. Two events this past September, the EGI Technical Forum and the ISC Cloud event in Mannheim, especially reflected the progress in the HPC cloud space. This year’s SC12 is shaping up to have the same kind of energy and excitement around the enabling qualities of cloud – from public to private and that best-of-both worlds hybrid space.

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!

TACC Helps ROSIE Bioscience Gateway Expand its Impact

April 26, 2017

Biomolecule structure prediction has long been challenging not least because the relevant software and workflows often require high-end HPC systems that many bioscience researchers lack easy access to. Read more…

By John Russell

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

IBM, Nvidia, Stone Ridge Claim Gas & Oil Simulation Record

April 25, 2017

IBM, Nvidia, and Stone Ridge Technology today reported setting the performance record for a “billion cell” oil and gas reservoir simulation. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Remote Visualization Optimizing Life Sciences Operations and Care Delivery

As patients continually demand a better quality of care and increasingly complex workloads challenge healthcare organizations to innovate, investing in the right technologies is key to ensuring growth and success. Read more…

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 a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Musk’s Latest Startup Eyes Brain-Computer Links

April 21, 2017

Elon Musk, the auto and space entrepreneur and severe critic of artificial intelligence, is forming a new venture that reportedly will seek to develop an interface between the human brain and computers. Read more…

By George Leopold

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

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

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

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Hyperion (IDC) Paints a Bullish Picture of HPC Future

April 20, 2017

Hyperion Research – formerly IDC’s HPC group – yesterday painted a fascinating and complicated portrait of the HPC community’s health and prospects at the HPC User Forum held in Albuquerque, NM. HPC sales are up and growing ($22 billion, all HPC segments, 2016). 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

CERN openlab Explores New CPU/FPGA Processing Solutions

April 14, 2017

Through a CERN openlab project known as the ‘High-Throughput Computing Collaboration,’ researchers are investigating the use of various Intel technologies in data filtering and data acquisition systems. Read more…

By Linda Barney

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

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 phase of neural networks (NN). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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. 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 campaign. 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 assets. 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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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