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!

InfiniBand Still Tops in Supercomputing

July 19, 2018

In the competitive global HPC landscape, system and processor vendors, nations and end user sites certainly get a lot of attention--deservedly so--but more than ever, the network plays a crucial role. While fast, perform Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC for Life: Genomics, Brain Research, and Beyond

July 19, 2018

During the past few decades, the life sciences have witnessed one landmark discovery after another with the aid of HPC, paving the way toward a new era of personalized treatments based on an individual’s genetic makeup Read more…

By Warren Froelich

WCRP’s New Strategic Plan for Climate Research Highlights the Importance of HPC

July 19, 2018

As climate modeling increasingly leverages exascale computing and researchers warn of an impending computing gap in climate research, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is developing its new Strategic Plan – and high-performance computing is slated to play a critical role. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Are Your Software Licenses Impeding Your Productivity?

In my previous article, Improving chip yield rates with cognitive manufacturing, I highlighted the costs associated with semiconductor manufacturing, and how cognitive methods can yield benefits in both design and manufacture.  Read more…

U.S. Exascale Computing Project Releases Software Technology Progress Report

July 19, 2018

As is often noted the race to exascale computing isn’t just about hardware. This week the U.S. Exascale Computing Project (ECP) released its latest Software Technology (ST) Capability Assessment Report detailing progress so far. Read more…

By John Russell

InfiniBand Still Tops in Supercomputing

July 19, 2018

In the competitive global HPC landscape, system and processor vendors, nations and end user sites certainly get a lot of attention--deservedly so--but more than Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC for Life: Genomics, Brain Research, and Beyond

July 19, 2018

During the past few decades, the life sciences have witnessed one landmark discovery after another with the aid of HPC, paving the way toward a new era of perso Read more…

By Warren Froelich

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

AI Thought Leaders on Capitol Hill

July 14, 2018

On Thursday, July 12, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology heard from four academic and industry leaders – representatives from Berkeley Lab, Argonne Lab, GE Global Research and Carnegie Mellon University – on the opportunities springing from the intersection of machine learning and advanced-scale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Serves as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for the Information Age

July 12, 2018

In an age defined and transformed by its data, several large-scale scientific instruments around the globe might be viewed as a ‘mother lode’ of precious data. With names seemingly created for a ‘techno-speak’ glossary, these interferometers, cyclotrons, sequencers, solenoids, satellite altimeters, and cryo-electron microscopes are churning out data in previously unthinkable and seemingly incomprehensible quantities -- billions, trillions and quadrillions of bits and bytes of electro-magnetic code. Read more…

By Warren Froelich

Tsinghua Powers Through ISC18 Field

July 10, 2018

Tsinghua University topped all other competitors at the ISC18 Student Cluster Competition with an overall score of 88.43 out of 100. This gives Tsinghua their s Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE, EPFL Launch Blue Brain 5 Supercomputer

July 10, 2018

HPE and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausannne (EPFL) Blue Brain Project yesterday introduced Blue Brain 5, a new supercomputer built by HPE, which displ Read more…

By John Russell

Pumping New Life into HPC Clusters, the Case for Liquid Cooling

July 10, 2018

High Performance Computing (HPC) faces some daunting challenges in the coming years as traditional, industry-standard systems push the boundaries of data center Read more…

By Scott Tease

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

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