Cray Snaps Together Shared Memory Story

By Nicole Hemsoth

September 17, 2013

Large shared memory systems are often a novelty and some, including the well-known SGI Altix UV1000 “Blacklight” system at PSCC, for instance, have received a great deal of attention due to their ability to address specific high performance computing workloads.

While Blacklight and similar large coherent shared memory systems are driven by hardware-based approaches to creating unified approaches, Cray veered off at the software fork, deciding to create similarly focused systems at the software level.  This morning they announced two different pre-configured setups on their Cray CS300 systems that will make room for workloads that have a need for larger memory within a single operating system instance.

By tapping their longtime partner, virtualization-based shared memory system software vendor ScaleMP, the supercomputer maker says that they’re both able to broaden their cluster architectures to support larger memory applications—all without the risk of going it alone with a more investment-heavy hardware-based approach to creating shared memory systems. ScaleMP’s vSMP Foundation software snaps together commodity x86 servers to create a single virtual system, which provides an alternative to (what are usually more expensive) SMP systems.

More specifically, today Cray rolled out their CS300 SMP product, which is a shared memory parallel system that sports (upgrade aside) a basic 360 Xeon cores, 4.75 TB of memory and the ability to tap single or dual-rail FDR InfiniBand.

The other, a Cray CS300 LMS (a large memory system) manages these workloads via direct memory access without harnessing high core counts in high-RAM-demand environments that chug along on simpler dual and quad-socket systems.  Cray says these stepped-down systems can scale from 4.75 TB to 8.75 TB of memory and harness 20-32 Xeon cores. These are standard air-cooled CS300s that have wrapped around ScaleMP’s vSMP Foundation software, which is at the core of the HPC system virtualization vendor’s business.

Cray’s Barry Bolding admitted that while there are certainly some HPC applications that can’t be broken up across conventional clusters, it’s a small number—perhaps around 10% at the most. Still, these workloads require large memory architectures, but the hardware-based approach that SGI, for example, takes can add significant expense and is not as simple to maintain (i.e. updates to the system required with new processor generations, etc.).

Interesting that a company known for its supercomputing hardware history would turn on its roots to favor software, but without a sizable known market, Bolding says the investments required to do what rival SGI has done with its Numalink technology are significant—and ScaleMP approach offers lower cost on all ends—and no real risk for Cray to add to its ranks of options for the CS300 line.

While Bolding said that creating their own hardware-based approach to large-memory systems isn’t out of the question (and has been an idea that’s been bandied about for some time already) this shouldn’t be seen as a definitive first step in that direction. While one can be certain Cray will assess the adoption and success of this addition to the CS300 line in their eventual evaluations of the hardware-shared memory field, Bolding says that there are advantages of the software-based take on shared memory—most notably, dramatically lower costs and, as mentioned previously, fewer maintenance hassles.

On the cost front, Bolding notes that the addition of ScaleMP’s shared memory software, which comes integrated and ready to roll from the factory, does not add significant cost. The systems range from around $200k for the large memory configuration and upwards from $300k for the SMP version. While Cray is not expecting this addition to shatter sales records, it does offer something to differentiate its CS300 portfolio—and to further test the shared memory waters.

In a conversation this morning with ScaleMP’s founder, president and CEO, Shai Fultheim, we talked about the value of the software-based approach to shared memory system creation. As Fultheim told us, their virtualization approach reduces overall system (CAPEX) and management complexities (OPEX) costs. Specifically, he says that their vSMP Foundation aggregates up to 128 x86 systems to create a single system with up to 32,768 cpus and up to 256 TB of shared memory.

Fultheim also noted that these approaches go beyond high performance computing environments. Big data, analytics and database-driven companies are looking to the benefits of the software-based paradigm of aggregating the common x86 systems into one single x86 virtualized system reach performance, management and efficiency targets.

ScaleMP has partnered with Cray in the past, beginning in 2009, via a joint solution for HPC customers to operate a shared-memory, deskside supercomputer that could scale up to 128 cores and 1TB of shared memory.

“Cray has always had a special relationship with the most demanding users, redefining the requirements for high-end systems. With this collaboration, Cray’s new large memory and shared memory systems will allow a broader technical computing audience to benefit from the ability to address larger workloads and get faster results,” said Fultheim.

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!

Fine-Tuning Severe Hail Forecasting with Machine Learning

July 20, 2017

Depending on whether you’ve been caught outside during a severe hail storm, the sight of greenish tinted clouds on the horizon may cause serious knots in the pit of your stomach, or at least give you pause. There’s g Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged

July 19, 2017

Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the Nationa Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's output. The Japanese multinational has made a raft of HPC and A Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the computer we use most (hopefully) and understand least. This mon Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives voted to accept the recomme Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Summer Reading: IEEE Spectrum’s Chip Hall of Fame

July 17, 2017

Take a trip down memory lane – the Mostek MK4096 4-kilobit DRAM, for instance. Perhaps processors are more to your liking. Remember the Sh-Boom processor (1988), created by Russell Fish and Chuck Moore, and named after Read more…

By John Russell

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provides participants the opportunity to network with industry lea Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series and timeliness in general, according to Paul Morin, directo Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Fine-Tuning Severe Hail Forecasting with Machine Learning

July 20, 2017

Depending on whether you’ve been caught outside during a severe hail storm, the sight of greenish tinted clouds on the horizon may cause serious knots in the Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Intel Skylake: Xeon Goes from Chip to Platform

July 13, 2017

With yesterday’s New York unveiling of the new “Skylake” Xeon Scalable processors, Intel made multiple runs at multiple competitive threats and strategic Read more…

By Doug Black

Perverse Incentives? How Economics (Mis-)shaped Academic Science

July 12, 2017

The unintended consequences of how we fund academic research—in the U.S. and elsewhere—are strangling innovation, putting universities into debt and creatin Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Senior Science Writer, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

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 a 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. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

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 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

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 cam Read more…

By John Russell

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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

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

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

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 Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

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