Beowulf Community Comes Together at SC13

By Jeff Layton

November 9, 2013

A Personal Take on the Big Event…

When I first started in HPC I used the classic supercomputers such as the CDC 6600, the Cyber 205, and the ETA-10. Fortunately the university I attended gave me free access to these systems as long as I didn’t abuse the resources.

My research needed to use these resources more and more and when I became a faculty member in 1992 at a small university I no longer had access to resources of this caliber. But my research was getting more complex and the problems were getting larger so I started looking for other ways to ways to continue my research.

I started with some basic parallel programming on some Sun workstations (Solaris) using PVM so I could solve larger problems. At that time I started using Linux and was reading about Don Becker and Tom Sterling’s Beowulf work. A new faculty member moved in next door to me, and he and I started talking about cluster computing, particularly Beowulf.

We loved the ideas and community that surrounded Linux, specifically Beowulf systems. We could inexpensively build and tune our own parallel computers. We started researching how to build one and, using my friends’ start-up money, built one. The Beowulf community was quickly growing and was amazingly friendly and helpful. Lots of experimentation and lots of idea exchange. It was kind of like a frat party for geeks (this is my wife’s analogy, not mine).

I left the academic life and moved into the aerospace industry, where I became a code developer and then a system administrator. I brought Beowulf systems to my company and started making friends in the Beowulf community. This is how Doug Eadline and I became friends. It was a great time because Beowulf systems (clusters) were surging very rapidly. Lots of cool things were happening and there was a wonderful exchange of ideas and patches and code. The Beowulf mailing list was formed and lots of people offered help with suggestions and code. It really was a wonderful time and the Beowulf mailing list was at the center of cluster universe. This was also the time when clusters were starting to appear on the Top500 (and soon to dominate that list).

I remember going to my first Linux conference and being awe-struck by the talent, but I was especially taken by the people involved with Beowulf. This was still the beanbag generation with lots of Beowulf hackers sitting in booths with laptops,  writing code. Then I went to my first SuperComputing (SC) conference in 2004 in Pittsburgh and met even more cool people. What struck me the most from these conferences was that lots of people had very similar interests to mine and really enjoyed exchanging ideas. They were very approachable — you could go up and introduce yourself and start talking to them. The person who intimidated me the most was Andreas Dilger of ext4 and Lustre fame, but he is truly one of the nicest people you could meet.

As Beowulf systems grew and became more popular the community grew and SC became very heavily focused on clusters. There were corporate parties where you had to score a coveted invitation for entrance. Business became a common conversation on the show floor. While this is all wonderful, I was still looking for an event where I didn’t have to beg an invitation and where I could talk to people who had very similar interests and with whom I corresponded on the Beowulf mailing list. The Beowulf Bash scratched my itch. Here was an open party where anyone could come and interact. The sponsors are companies whose employees participate on the Beowulf list and they do it because of their support for the Beowulf community.

I’ve gone to a number of BeoBash events and what amazes me is that at every single one I meet someone I haven’t met before but whose posts I’ve read and admired. I remember first seeing and meeting Dr. Walt Ligon from Clemson who was working on a parallel file system, PVFS, that I was using. It as at a BeoBash that I also discovered that Walt is an amazing guitarist. At other BeoBash events I remember meeting Hank Dietz, Robert Brown, Rob Ross, Dan Stanzione, Greg Lindahl, Don Becker, Brian Haymore, Greg Kurtzer, Bernard Li, Roger Smith, and Glen Otero, to name just a few. It was amazing to be able to talk to these people and exchange ideas (at least early in the evening — by late evening I wasn’t able to think as clearly).

In the last few years I’ve gotten re-energized by watching the number of younger people and students who come to the BeoBash. They love to talk about new ideas and new technologies around Beowulf clusters. They argue about which way is the best way to do things and most of them are grimly determined that their way is the only way (Doug Eadline and I have never been this opinionated). Instead of a room surrounded my middle-aged white men with finger food, I was surrounded by a wonderful range of really passionate, vibrant people who were tons of fun to talk to (even though I fit into the category of a middle aged white guy). I even took an informal poll at my new job and everyone rated the BeoBash as the best party at SC.

In my opinion, the BeoBash has become the best part of SC. You learn a great deal on the expo floor but you can learn so much more at the BeoBash. I’ve gotten old enough that I like to walk up to groups of younger people and just start asking questions. At first it makes them uncomfortable as hell but soon their passion, their excitement, their unique opinions come out and I thoroughly enjoy it. Of course the really interesting thing is that when I see them later I like to ask if they remember me. So far the poll is about 50/50 but I’m not offended — I blame the beer.

This year’s BeoBash should be better than ever. Lara and the Xand Marketing team have been working their fingers to the bone as usual. Doug is preparing his devious plans, which I hear include Schweddy Balls this year, but we’ll all have to find out.

“Same people, better food, more beer“…

Jeff Layton is the Senior Product Manager for Intel Lustre, a Beowulf Devotee, and a slave to fashion. He can be found lounging around at a nearby Frys enjoying the coffee and waiting for sales (but never during working hours).

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!

Hyperion: HPC Server Market Ekes 1 Percent Gain in 2020, Storage Poised for ‘Tipping Point’

May 12, 2021

The HPC User Forum meeting taking place virtually this week (May 11-13) kicked off with Hyperion Research’s market update, covering the 2020 period. Although the HPC server market had been facing a 6.7 percent COVID-re Read more…

Finland’s CSC Chronicles the COVID Research Performed on Its ‘Puhti’ Supercomputer

May 11, 2021

CSC, Finland’s IT Center for Science, is home to a variety of computing resources, including the 1.7 petaflops Puhti supercomputer. The 682-node, Intel Cascade Lake-powered system, which places about halfway down the T Read more…

IBM Debuts Qiskit Runtime for Quantum Computing; Reports Dramatic Speed-up

May 11, 2021

In conjunction with its virtual Think event, IBM today introduced an enhanced Qiskit Runtime Software for quantum computing, which it says demonstrated 120x speedup in simulating molecules. Qiskit is IBM’s quantum soft Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base clock of 2.0GHz – implemented in HPE's single-socket ProLian Read more…

Supercomputer Research Tracks the Loss of the World’s Glaciers

May 7, 2021

British Columbia – which is over twice the size of California – contains around 17,000 glaciers that cover three percent of its landmass. These glaciers are crucial for the Canadian province, which relies on its many Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

FLYING WHALES runs CFD workloads 15 times faster on AWS

FLYING WHALES is a French startup that is developing a 60-ton payload cargo airship for the heavy lift and outsize cargo market. The project was born out of France’s ambition to provide efficient, environmentally friendly transportation for collecting wood in remote areas. Read more…

Meet Dell’s Pete Manca, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

May 7, 2021

Pete Manca heads up Dell's newly formed HPC and AI leadership group. As senior vice president of the integrated solutions engineering team, he is focused on custom design, technology alliances, high-performance computing Read more…

Hyperion: HPC Server Market Ekes 1 Percent Gain in 2020, Storage Poised for ‘Tipping Point’

May 12, 2021

The HPC User Forum meeting taking place virtually this week (May 11-13) kicked off with Hyperion Research’s market update, covering the 2020 period. Although Read more…

IBM Debuts Qiskit Runtime for Quantum Computing; Reports Dramatic Speed-up

May 11, 2021

In conjunction with its virtual Think event, IBM today introduced an enhanced Qiskit Runtime Software for quantum computing, which it says demonstrated 120x spe Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Fast Pass Through (Some of) the Quantum Landscape with ORNL’s Raphael Pooser

May 7, 2021

In a rather remarkable way, and despite the frequent hype, the behind-the-scenes work of developing quantum computing has dramatically accelerated in the past f Read more…

IBM Research Debuts 2nm Test Chip with 50 Billion Transistors

May 6, 2021

IBM Research today announced the successful prototyping of the world's first 2 nanometer chip, fabricated with silicon nanosheet technology on a standard 300mm Read more…

LRZ Announces New Phase of SuperMUC-NG Supercomputer with Intel’s ‘Ponte Vecchio’ GPU

May 5, 2021

At the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in München, Germany – one of the constituent centers of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS) – the SuperMUC Read more…

Crystal Ball Gazing at Nvidia: R&D Chief Bill Dally Talks Targets and Approach

May 4, 2021

There’s no quibbling with Nvidia’s success. Entrenched atop the GPU market, Nvidia has ridden its own inventiveness and growing demand for accelerated computing to meet the needs of HPC and AI. Recently it embarked on an ambitious expansion by acquiring Mellanox (interconnect)... Read more…

Intel Invests $3.5 Billion in New Mexico Fab to Focus on Foveros Packaging Technology

May 3, 2021

Intel announced it is investing $3.5 billion in its Rio Rancho, New Mexico, facility to support its advanced 3D manufacturing and packaging technology, Foveros. Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

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…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2021) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire