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!

Alibaba Highlights COVID-19 Research Enabled by Its Cloud HPC

April 8, 2020

Many supercomputer centers are fast-tracking COVID-19-related proposals and prioritizing COVID-19-related jobs on their systems. For the researchers whose access to these systems is limited (or for whom time is too limit Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

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…

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

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