Lustre Founder Spots Haskell on HPC Horizon

By Nicole Hemsoth

June 24, 2013

As a small 20-person company, Boulder-based Parallel Scientific flies just under the mainstream radar, but for those who have been in the HPC community for a number of years, its CEO and Chief Architect Peter Braam is a recognizable name.

Braam’s major contribution to high performance computing geared up in 1999 at Carnegie Mellon, where he worked on the file system architecture that spun into Lustre. Inspired by that progress, Braam kicked that project out as a business, beginning Cluster File Systems, which was acquired by Sun in 2007. A year later, Braam let the Sun set and embarked on a new adventure with Parallel Scientific.

The company has a rather interesting business model–instead of focusing on particular problem area (outside of the general purview of tailoring environments for large-scale HPC deployments) they are letting the breeze carry them. For instance, they have found themselves focusing on parallel Haskell in the last few years, even though Braam says that such development might just be the shell for something much larger or entirely different as they continue. 

The saying goes that in Haskell, the function is a first-class citizen–and this status might make it a solid fit for a range of high performance computing environments. Despite what Braam admits is a daunting learning curve, there is an open field of possibilities for Haskell to infiltrate HPC. As it stands, there is an active community around it and around 5000 open source and tools available. But the real value for high performance computing, he argues, lies in Haskell’s productivity and correctness–a worth that’s been validated in select industrial use cases.

Arguably, Google and Facebook have brought more attention to Haskell in recent years, but there are a number of other notable uses that highlight Braam’s confidence in the functional language. For instance, Chicago-based Allston Trading, a high frequency trading company, uses Haskell in their trading infrastructure. AT&T is using it in their Network Security group to automate internet abuse complaint processing. Bank of American is using it in their backend data transformation and loading system and Credit Suisse’s Global Modeling and Analytics Group has been using it since 2006 to improve modeler productivity and open access to those models across the organization.

Biotech giant Amgen also uses Haskell for math-heavy models and to “break developers out of their development rut by giving them a new way to think about software. According to the company’s David Balaban, “Our experience is that using functional programming reduces the critical conceptual distance between thought/algorithms design and code.” But the real value says Balaban is the level of correctness they’ve been able to achieve.

As Amgen’s Balaban says “we have been able to develop code quickly and verify–to an applied mathematician’s satisfaction–the correctness of Haskell code straightforwardly; we have yet to achieve this with more traditional mainstream languages.” 

And indeed, there are plenty of mainstream languages that would seem to fit the bill for mathematical models that don’t come with the hike. Braam says that while R might seem like the most practical language for users like Amgen and others noted above, there are opportunities for error in R that Haskell won’t allow. When correctness is key–as it is with all of the above use cases–the learning curve of Haskell is worth the price if total accuracy is inherent. In fact, he laughingly admits that their business could eventually turn to just building a language that is “safer” than R on the correctness front. 

When it comes to the uptake of a language like Haskell with its learning curve and relatively isolated set of non end user-based functionality, Braam says it’s a matter of time. He points to languages like Python, which took a decade or more to wind a path through large-scale environments, HPC and commercial alike. Still, he notes, “you’d be surprised how many companies have a ‘secret’ Haskell department–a group of people that are highly productive dedicated to solving a serious problem. This is especially true in the financial world–mostly because of the correctness element.”

And true to that point, in grazing the user community for Haskell, the trend seems to be that few are using Haskell as an end user tool. However, users want to be able to construct robust software infrastructure that lets users maintain creativity and take advantage of domain-specific languages, which he says are not as difficult as one might think to implement in Haskell. He points to the example of a Square Kilometer Array (SKA) research group, which wants to the right set of primitives built that will allow the hardware to change and run on different hybrid platforms–an area that his company can help with. 

The idea for finding a wider market for parallel Haskell spun from work Braam and colleagues did around an XSTACK proposal which sought programming environments for exascale computers. The team put an emphasis on automatic parallelization via compilers–a trick that Braam said plenty outside of the HPC community (Facebook, for example) has perfected. It just hasn’t caught on in HPC–although said the same Erlang and Haskell tricks that have worked at that scale can automate parallelism across a multitude of HPC systems. 

His team is also hard at work perfecting their “Awesome Haskell FPGA Compiler” whihc lets developers express hardware solutions in a high-level domain specific language in much the same way their work with SKA is allowing. The environment would allow software simulation and testing in an interactive environment to wick away the long development time that are the bane of FPGA design. The solution that can be kicked to the overall environment and ready to run in some unique data-intensive areas, like SKA.

Braam is a Haskell believer in the same way he believed in his pioneering work on Lustre. “People said you’re wasting your time,” he reminisced. While the use cases may be small, as big data and more complex models drive further into both research and enterprise settings, the appeal of a functional language that emphasizes correctness and productivity will reveal itself.

 

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!

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing ( Read more…

By John Russell

Ethernet Technology Consortium Launches 800 Gigabit Ethernet Specification

April 7, 2020

The newly rebranded Ethernet Technology Consortium (ETC), formerly known as the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, announced a new 800 Gigabit Ethernet specification and an expanded scope aimed at meeting the needs of perfo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Spanish Researchers Introduce HPC-Ready COVID-19 Spread Simulator

April 7, 2020

With governments in a mad scramble to identify the policies most likely to curb the spread of the pandemic without unnecessarily crippling the global economy, researchers are turning to AI and high-performance computing Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Stony Brook Researchers to Run COVID-19 Simulations on Supercomputers

April 6, 2020

A wide range of supercomputers are crunching the infamous “spike” protein of the novel coronavirus, from Summit more than a month ago to [email protected] to a Russian cluster just a week ago. Read more…

By Staff report

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fast-Tracked Research, Susceptibility Study, Antibodies & More

April 6, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Amazon FSx for Lustre Update: Persistent Storage for Long-Term, High-Performance Workloads

Last year I wrote about Amazon FSx for Lustre and told you how our customers can use it to create pebibyte-scale, highly parallel POSIX-compliant file systems that serve thousands of simultaneous clients driving millions of IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) with sub-millisecond latency. Read more…

Army Seeks AI Ground Truth

April 3, 2020

Deep neural networks are being mustered by U.S. military researchers to marshal new technology forces on the Internet of Battlefield Things. U.S. Army and industry researchers said this week they have developed a “c Read more…

By George Leopold

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems Read more…

By John Russell

Ethernet Technology Consortium Launches 800 Gigabit Ethernet Specification

April 7, 2020

The newly rebranded Ethernet Technology Consortium (ETC), formerly known as the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, announced a new 800 Gigabit Ethernet specificati Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ECP Milestone Report Details Progress and Directions

April 1, 2020

The Exascale Computing Project (ECP) milestone report issued last week presents a good snapshot of progress in preparing applications for exascale computing. Th Read more…

By John Russell

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

LLNL Leverages Supercomputing to Identify COVID-19 Antibody Candidates

March 30, 2020

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe to devastating effect, supercomputers around the world are spinning up to fight back by working on diagnosis, epidemiology, treatme Read more…

By Staff report

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium- Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

With the coronavirus sweeping the globe, tech conferences and supply chains are being hit hard – but now, tech is hitting back. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Read more…

By Staff report

CINECA’s Carlo Cavazzoni Describes the Supercomputing Battle Against COVID-19

March 17, 2020

The latest episode of the This Week in HPC podcast features Carlo Cavazzoni, a senior staff member at CINECA, one of the leading supercomputing organizations in Europe. Intersect360 Research's Addison Snell spoke to Cavazzoni to discuss both CINECA's work using supercomputing to combat COVID-19 and Cavazzoni's personal experience living near the epicenter... Read more…

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