AMD Taken to Task on HPC Investment

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 10, 2013

Until relatively recently, AMD was a definite force on the Top500 list of supercomputers, especially once its Opteron managed to eek its way into around 108 systems on the list back in 2007, giving Intel a run for its x86-64 money. 

The last couple of bi-annual Top500 lists, however, show that Opteron share declining, despite what the company’s GM of the Server Business Unit, Andrew Feldman, calls superior technology, particularly on the APU, interconnect and power efficiency fronts.

To highlight the changes, we took a look at the Opteron share of the Top500 list based on each June’s numbers since after AMD announced it in 2003. As you can see below, they clearly peaked in 2008 and are on the downslide, especially when compared to Intel’s 80% slice of the Top500 pie in 2013.

The graphic below, which is based on all Opteron generations, shows a definite high point, but with Xeon Phi thrown into the mix and some new innovations on the performance front from NVIDIA, and the potential for some strong ARM-ing, it’s hard to foretell just how steep the next step down will be if we refresh this graph in November following the next list.

Remember too, that it’s only so comprehensive since it doesn’t take flops or different systems into account–and recall that there’s a small Cray component here since several systems got a round of new Opterons–but of course, that’s not going to be the case since the XC30 is Intel-only. The point is, there is downward trend.

During a conversation this week with Feldman, we asked quite frankly how invested AMD is in the HPC market–a question we’d hoped to ask in person at ISC but AMD didn’t have a direct presence for the first time in years. While he admitted that HPC is a thin slice of their overall business, it’s still an important one, and still the target for further development on their APU, especially since lucrative markets are demanding power-efficiency and performance. 

Feldman pointed to a few key areas where they’re focused on offering up HPC options. While academia and research were token mentions, the hot areas for their APU he said are in both oil and gas and government–the “three-letter agencies” to be exact. 

“When we look at what industrial supercomputing users are looking for, it’s the ability to deliver more compute per dollar–and then more compute per watt. If you look at the Top500 or Green500, it’s not about the horsepower of each piece, it’s about how many pieces you can tie together, how you can break up the work, and do a placement algorithm.” 

“if you think about every person being recorded at an airport, all the facial recognition work that’s being done, and even what came out recently about the NSA and its operation that’s where our APUs shine. The government is looking for power efficient architectures that offer the performance they need, Feldman says.

Pattern recognition, log analysis and other similar gather and hunt operations, however, seem to fall more in the field of large-scale data analysis as it’s being done on stripped-down hardware. In other words, this is an ideal fit for Hadoop, MapReduce and the slew of other new frameworks that have sprung up to tackle such problems.

When asked whether or not what the government is doing on the data mining fron is really HPC, he said that there is some use of MPI and other techniques to extract performance. The oil and gas industry, is a standard HPC area, but a lot of what Feldman discussed fit into more of a “big data” paradigm. This makes sense, however, because their roadmap is about broadening their reach–the Opteron isn’t specifically for HPC applications, he reminds, subtly hinting at the fact that Xeon Phi is. They’ve opened a larger market with their Opterons and will continue to do so via the Seattle project and its coming push to lay the Freedom fabric (which comes from SeaMicro–the company Feldman spearheaded) on the die with ARM cores. 

Feldman is confident the HPC community will take to what’s now called Seattle, a project to move the Freedom fabric onto the die with ARM cores, which is expected to happen in Q1 of 2014. He says that their differentiation is the fabric, especially with the move to smaller (but more efficient) cores. Since the matter of overhead on I/O, disk and other components doesn’t disappear, the interconnect becomes increasingly important.

Feldman said they’re not even trying to keep up with Intel, they’re trying to innovate right around them. It’s not a game of “catch-up” for anyone but Intel, says Feldman, pointing to their numerous fabric buys (QLogic, Aries) that have yet to amount to anything that’s in production. 

On that note, he says that even if Intel did manage to tap those fabrics, they are relevant for the supercomputing market which again, he says is a “very modest” part of their business and roadmap. AMD is focusing on creating new chips that will appeal to the supercomputing crowd but keep them afloat because of real enterprise viability. 

And, somehow, he managed to say all of this without uttering the phrase “big data” once. And thank you.

Feldman says users, at least the enterprise and big government ones they’re chasing, don’t want an “array of GPUs that are doing the narrow work they’re best at, then also having to move that data back and forth from the GPU’s DRAM into the CPU’s DRAM or by trying to create extraordinarily complex software systems to write to it via CUDA and the like.” He claims hat what users need is “a single processor that has graphics and more traditional compute and allows both to access the same DRAM” and a simpler programming model–in their case, HSA.

The problem, and Feldman agreed, is that AMD isn’t getting this message out there in terms of its HSA He says that it’s a shame because it’s far easier to write than OpenCL and CUDA, at least for those who can write code in C–although that base is probably not as big as it used to be.

Again, the aim is to appeal to a far wider set of users than NVIDIA is targeting with its GPU and Intel with Phi. But Feldman assured us that this widening of the net doesn’t mean they’re letting HPC slip through the holes.

“We believe that the combination of best in class fabrics like our Freedom fabric and our ability to build the industry’s best APU will have a meaningful and direct impact on the HPC market.”A market that, Feldman notes is a pretty thin slice versus a healthy chunk of pie.  

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!

How the United States Invests in Supercomputing

November 14, 2018

The CORAL supercomputers Summit and Sierra are now the world's fastest computers and are already contributing to science with early applications. Ahead of SC18, Maciej Chojnowski with ICM at the University of Warsaw discussed the details of the CORAL project with Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov from the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more…

By Maciej Chojnowski

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is enjoying a prosperity seen only every few decades, one driven Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, produ Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

New Data Management Techniques for Intelligent Simulations

The trend in high performance supercomputer design has evolved – from providing maximum compute capability for complex scalable science applications, to capacity computing utilizing efficient, cost-effective computing power for solving a small number of large problems or a large number of small problems. Read more…

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that delivers up to 75 Gb/s per rack on industry standard hardware combined with “enterprise-grade reliability and manageability.” Read more…

By Doug Black

How the United States Invests in Supercomputing

November 14, 2018

The CORAL supercomputers Summit and Sierra are now the world's fastest computers and are already contributing to science with early applications. Ahead of SC18, Maciej Chojnowski with ICM at the University of Warsaw discussed the details of the CORAL project with Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov from the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more…

By Maciej Chojnowski

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is en Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that delivers up to 75 Gb/s per rack on industry standard hardware combined with “enterprise-grade reliability and manageability.” Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competitio Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC im Read more…

By John Russell

How ASCI Revolutionized the World of High-Performance Computing and Advanced Modeling and Simulation

November 9, 2018

The 1993 Supercomputing Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. That conference and it’s show floor provided a good snapshot of the uncertainty that U.S. supercomputing was facing in the early 1990s. Many of the companies exhibiting that year would soon be gone, either bankrupt or acquired by somebody else. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba 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

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

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

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

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