Top 10 Hits and Misses for 2012

By Michael Feldman

December 13, 2012

In the world of high performance computing, a lot of the important news this year revolved around heterogeneous computing, big data, and HPC interconnects. Two vendors that perhaps embodied those technologies more so than others were Cray and Intel, both of which figured prominently in some of the biggest HPC stories in 2012.  Here are HPCwire’s highlights and lowlights for the year.

Hit: Accelerators Break Teraflop Barrier

With the introduction of NVIDIA’s Kepler K20/K20X GPUs, Intel’s newly hatched Xeon Phi line, and AMD’s new FirePro GPU offering in November, users can now buy a teraflop computing device for just a few thousand dollars. NVIDIA has established itself as the market leader and its latest K20X GPU looks to keep that role intact. Intel’s entrance into the market with its Knights Corner coprocessors, and AMD’s re-entrance with its server-grade FirePro S10000, will offer some interesting alternatives though, and should widen the aperture significantly for heterogeneous computing in the year ahead.

Hit: Sandy Bridge CPUs Debut

Before Intel launched the Knights Corner products, the chipmaker was already making its mark on the supercomputing landscape with its mainstream Xeon line. The first Sandy Bridge Xeon parts (the E5-2600 processor family) were officially released in March. At that point though, there were already at least ten TOP500-class supercomputers being powered by the chips using early production parts. Sandy Bridge represents a new microarchitecture, featuring PCIe Gen3 on chip, a faster memory interface, an integrated I/O hub, and AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions). The latter is Intel’s new 256-bit vector instruction set that effectively doubles FP throughput.

Miss: AMD Gets Existential

AMD, suffering from a weakened PC market in 2012, announced in October it would lay off 15 percent of its workforce this year. The Opteron chip division, which serves the HPC server space was in somewhat better shape though. The company launched its new “Piledriver”-based Opteron 6300 in November, but there was little hope that the new line would do anything to reverse Intel’s dominance of the server chip market. To top it off, in November, rumors surfaced that the chipmaker was looking to sell the company, or at least some its assets, to interested parties. AMD denied the rumors.

Hit: HPC Cozies Up to Big Data

HPC vendors embraced “big data” in a big way in 2012, or at least their marketing departments did. And as some in the industry have argued, HPC and big data are joined at the hip. HPC server makers, interconnect vendors, storage companies, would tend to agree; in 2012, they all jumped on the bandwagon. Supercomputing technology is shaping up to be a key ingredient for big data machinery.

Hit: Cray Yarcs Up Big Data

To make the HPC-big data connection official, supercomputer-maker Cray launched into the business with a brand new division devoted to the technology. Dubbed YarcData (Yarc is Cray spelled backward) the group was announced in February and unveiled its first commercial product in March. The appliance, known as uRiKA, recycles Cray’s XMT hardware to deliver a graph analytics platform that is aimed at “real-time knowledge discovery.” So far the company has sold a handful of the machines.

Miss: Feds Suck the Energy Out of SC12

Thanks to fallout from GSA financial misconduct at an employee training conference in 2010, US government funding for Department of Energy (DOE) booths and attendance at the Supercomputing Conference (SC12) in November was curtailed significantly this year. The feds subsequently issued an edict to curtail travel expenses, which led to a $100K-per-conference spending limit for the DOE. Effectively that meant no pretty booths for any of the energy agency’s labs and a smaller contingent of DOE attendees roaming the conference halls this year.

Hit: Titan Wins Linpack Sweepstakes

The DOE might have been missing in action at SC12, but its supercomputers got plenty of attention. The GPU rework of Cray’s Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) captured the number one spot on the new TOP500 list. Titan, as it is now known, delivered 17.6 petaflops on Linpack, knocking another DOE supercomputer, Lawrence Livermore Lab’s Sequoia, into second place. The NVIDIA GPU-powered Titan also bested Sequoia, an IBM Blue Gene/Q machine, in energy efficiency.

Hit: Cray Acquires Appro

The most significant supercomputing acquisition of the year came in November when Cray shelled out $25 million to buy Appro, a privately owned HPC cluster-maker. Appro, which has been in the business for 20 years, makes commodity supercomputer clusters (commodity inasmuch as Appro gear relies on industry-standard interconnects like InfiniBand), mainly for the US market.  The move expands Cray’s portfolio considerably and is expected to add $60 million worth of revenue to the company’s top line in 2013.

Hit: Intel Rolls Up Fabrics

In 2012 Intel bought up two HPC interconnect technologies and started to devise a fabric strategy around them. In January, the chipmaker anted up $125 million to buy QLogic’s InfiniBand assets. And in April, Intel added to its collection by acquiring Cray’s custom interconnect IP and expertise for $140 million. Intel’s strategic interest in the technology is to bring these fabrics on-chip, essentially integrating a NIC onto the processor die. The move dovetails with Intel’s plans to provide silicon componentry for exascale machines.

Miss: US Exascale Plans in Limbo

With DARPA’s Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) program now but a distant memory, it fell to the DOE to pick up the exascale slack for the US. But now we’ve learned that program is also running into delays. According to a presentation delivered at SC12 by William Harrod, the Research Division Director of the DOE’s Office of Science Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the agency’s original plans of fielding its first exaflop machine before the end of the decade is in jeopardy. Harrod said that even if the government approves exascale funding next year, the first such machines are probably not going to arrive before 2020, and more likely, not until 2022.

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!

What’s New in HPC Research: September (Part 1)

September 18, 2018

In this new bimonthly feature, HPCwire will highlight newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Check back every Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and development. Among other things it would establish a National Quantu Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Accelerates AI Inference in the Datacenter with T4 GPU

September 14, 2018

Nvidia is upping its game for AI inference in the datacenter with a new platform consisting of an inference accelerator chip--the new Turing-based Tesla T4 GPU--and a refresh of its inference server software packaged as Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Introducing the First Integrated System Management Software for HPC Clusters from HPE

How do you manage your complex, growing cluster environments? Answer that big challenge with the new HPC cluster management solution: HPE Performance Cluster Manager. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

A Crystal Ball for HPC

People are notoriously bad at predicting the future.  This very much includes experts. In the Forbes article “Why Most Predictions Are So Bad” Philip Tetlock discusses the largest and best-known test of the accuracy of expert predictions which show that any experts would do better if they make random guesses. Read more…

NSF Highlights Expanded Efforts for Broadening Participation in Computing

September 13, 2018

Today, the Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) of the NSF released a letter highlighting the expansion of its broadening participation in computing efforts. The letter was penned by Jam Read more…

By Staff

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Accelerates AI Inference in the Datacenter with T4 GPU

September 14, 2018

Nvidia is upping its game for AI inference in the datacenter with a new platform consisting of an inference accelerator chip--the new Turing-based Tesla T4 GPU- Read more…

By George Leopold

DeepSense Combines HPC and AI to Bolster Canada’s Ocean Economy

September 13, 2018

We often hear scientists say that we know less than 10 percent of the life of the oceans. This week, IBM and a group of Canadian industry and government partner Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Rigetti (and Others) Pursuit of Quantum Advantage

September 11, 2018

Remember ‘quantum supremacy’, the much-touted but little-loved idea that the age of quantum computing would be signaled when quantum computers could tackle Read more…

By John Russell

How FPGAs Accelerate Financial Services Workloads

September 11, 2018

While FSI companies are unlikely, for competitive reasons, to disclose their FPGA strategies, James Reinders offers insights into the case for FPGAs as accelerators for FSI by discussing performance, power, size, latency, jitter and inline processing. Read more…

By James Reinders

Update from Gregory Kurtzer on Singularity’s Push into FS and the Enterprise

September 11, 2018

Container technology is hardly new but it has undergone rapid evolution in the HPC space in recent years to accommodate traditional science workloads and HPC systems requirements. While Docker containers continue to dominate in the enterprise, other variants are becoming important and one alternative with distinctly HPC roots – Singularity – is making an enterprise push targeting advanced scale workload inclusive of HPC. Read more…

By John Russell

At HPC on Wall Street: AI-as-a-Service Accelerates AI Journeys

September 10, 2018

AIaaS – artificial intelligence-as-a-service – is the technology discipline that eases enterprise entry into the mysteries of the AI journey while lowering Read more…

By Doug Black

No Go for GloFo at 7nm; and the Fujitsu A64FX post-K CPU

September 5, 2018

It’s been a news worthy couple of weeks in the semiconductor and HPC industry. There were several HPC relevant disclosures at Hot Chips 2018 to whet appetites Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GPUs Power Five of World’s Top Seven Supercomputers

June 25, 2018

The top 10 echelon of the newly minted Top500 list boasts three powerful new systems with one common engine: the Nvidia Volta V100 general-purpose graphics proc Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Machine Learning Hype Cycle and HPC

June 14, 2018

Like many other HPC professionals I’m following the hype cycle around machine learning/deep learning with interest. I subscribe to the view that we’re probably approaching the ‘peak of inflated expectation’ but not quite yet starting the descent into the ‘trough of disillusionment. This still raises the probability that... Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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