HPC’s Role in Defining Music’s Creation

By Antonis Karalis

December 23, 2013

“I remember I had this little computer with 16K of memory, and everyone was astonished! What was I going to do with all this memory!” Hans Zimmer around 1983.

Music and technology have been walking side by side for millenniums. Musical instruments have been following the advancements in technology. They evolved with mechanical and acoustics advancements, followed by advancements in electronics, and finally, they now transition into virtual reality, based on powerful code and efficient computational resources. History taught us that different musical instruments gave us different sound palettes and eventually different genres of music. Mastering new technologies has always helped us to develop new compositional styles, and enhance production approaches and sonics.

There are computer technologies that, as they go from one generation to the next, improve by an average factor of 2. With high performance computing and supercomputers, these improvements can actually be a factor of 10, or more. In a classic supercomputing style let’s look for things that will substantially change the way people perform their audio and music work and eventually how the audience enjoy their products.

Music and Technology – An Ancient Bond

Around the 5th century BC ancient Greeks created the Chorus, a homogeneous, non- individualized group of performers who communicated with the audience usually in song form. The Chorus originally consisted of fifty members. Tragedians, such as Sophocles and Euripides, changed this number through various experimentations. At the same time, on their quest to optimize the audience experience, the ancient architects built venues with custom designed acoustics. During the 18th Century, the chamber orchestra was found, also consisting of fifty musicians. Later, the full symphonic orchestra came along with about 100 musicians facilitated in custom-acoustic auditoriums that defined the sound of the experience. Music, orchestration and acoustics were always treated as one and there is a good reason for this.

The symphonic orchestra is truly a piece of technology: Every instrument is a different technological wonder and concert halls around the world are subjects of tremendous acoustic research. However, the most important element of an orchestra is the conductor. The conductor acts as the central piece of a very low message-passing latency and high-bandwidth fabric. The conductor is directing the musical performance in real time. This system architecture is the reason we have “Classical Music”. It became a reality based on organic nodes (human players), acoustic and physics laws and predetermined music written by the composer. The only limitations of this very advanced form of expression are that the music is already written by the composer and the acoustics are also more or less predetermined. To put that in perspective, in Jazz, the music can change in real time (improvisation) but the amount of people interacting in real time is greatly reduced.

The Time Machine

During the last 40 years, with the advancement of supercomputers and high-performance computing, we realized that we can scientifically create virtual environments, in which we can define specific questions and get answers. The better the questions are formed, the more defined the answers will be. This is what supercomputers have allowed us to do for many decades now and in many industries. They are like time machines. They allow us to understand the past and create the future.

But what is the ultimate answer to Music? Maybe we can discover this by moving backwards, and this is the main reason for this historic introduction to music technology. If we take one of the highest forms of human collaboration and expression, the symphonic orchestra and classical music, and we investigate those forms of expressions by a modern prism, we might get the answers we are looking for.

What are the ingredients of the modern hybrid recipe of orchestral music? Hollywood is the best place to look as scoring movies is the modern way of creating future classics.

Creating the HPC384 Spec.

I will use another Hans Zimmer quote here: “Music is organized chaos! ….but not necessarily in a bad way, as organized chaos can sound pretty good!” Composers might be inherently good in organizing chaos.

For the past 17 years, programmers from all around the world have built virtual instruments and effects based on software interfaces like VST, which runs seamlessly over an x86 microprocessor architecture. Among the high-performance computing systems, HPC clusters provide an efficient performance compute solution based on industry-standard hardware connected by a high-speed network.

Using HPC we can work with advanced physics to model plate reverbs, create evolving non-linear auditorium acoustics and emulate multi-microphone positions that will give sound endless possibilities. It is no longer necessary to work with oversampled peak detection in order to estimate the peak samples on a signal. We have overcome those barriers of conventional underpowered discrete-time systems. We process the actual audio and not ‘the estimation of it’ without any more fighting with conventional CPU or DSP constraints.  There is no way we can overload an HPC music production system when we work with 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz or even 384 kHz. Moreover, HPC allows us to have different sound qualities in the same project so we can push the engines hard when we want to emulate analog synthesizers, luscious reverbs or accurate solid-state and thermionic valve circuitry that needs advanced resolution at a microsecond’s time domain.

At this critical juncture of entertainment evolution, with 3D & HDR, IMAX Cinema, Dolby® Atmos, DTS® Headphone X, 6K Cinema and 4K TV with HDMI 2 (which has an audio bandwidth of 1536 kHz), the industry creates a roadmap for a quality aware audience.  A true quality upgrade of the overall cinematic experience is on-going. HPC384 Spec. is here to keep music production on par with those innovations and it will provide the necessary tools, specifications and revolutionary techniques so that music professionals will be able to produce and deliver high quality content to meet the demands and expectations of their audience.

Preliminary Tests

In our preliminary tests we rendered the first ever reverb at 1536kHz using U-He Zebra 2 VST clocked at 384 kHz as our sound generator. This sound is quite likely the most mathematically complex and harmonically rich single sound ever created in the digital domain. Sound examples here: http://www.hpcmusic.com/#!hpc384/crrb

U-He Diva, which is an advanced VST instrument, could playback in real time at 384 kHz with infinite notes of polyphony while the same instrument when used in a top-of-the-range workstation cannot perform more than few notes at 192 kHz. The highest bandwidth we managed to work with was 6144 kHz. We use bandwidth as a measure of efficiency of the system when it comes to music production. This way, when software developers are ready for heavy mathematics in low latency, almost real-time performance, we would know how to setup this reality-engine. Moreover, Dolby is heavily experimenting with many surround channels in order to enhance the localization information of sound. Using HPC we can go a step further and enhance the localization information of music (and not only sound) by composing and arranging in many-channel surround formats in a fully discrete way (3D Music)

On a cost per GFLOPS basis, we found that HPC for music can be roughly 35X better than the current industry-standard solutions, with 10X more bandwidth we can operate in real-time performance per audio track and enable unlimited track counts (high scalability).

Cost per GFLOPS

The future is about the audience experience

As for next steps, we need to work on the form factor of those solutions and further explore software opportunities. The evolution of music creation leads to an evolution of music enjoyment. In the same way that the vinyl record, walkman, CD and MP3 changed music for the better (or sometimes for the worse), we now see new products on the horizon that can revolutionize the audience experience.

Antonis Karalis

More info at www.hpcmusic.com

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!

Geospatial Data Research Leverages GPUs

August 17, 2017

MapD Technologies, the GPU-accelerated database specialist, said it is working with university researchers on leveraging graphics processors to advance geospatial analytics. The San Francisco-based company is collabor Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel, NERSC and University Partners Launch New Big Data Center

August 17, 2017

A collaboration between the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Intel and five Intel Parallel Computing Centers (IPCCs) has resulted in a new Big Data Center (BDC) that Read more…

By Linda Barney

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last week the cloud giant released deeplearn.js as part of that in Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Spoiler Alert: Glimpse Next Week’s Solar Eclipse Via Simulation from TACC, SDSC, and NASA

August 17, 2017

Can’t wait to see next week’s solar eclipse? You can at least catch glimpses of what scientists expect it will look like. A team from Predictive Science Inc. (PSI), based in San Diego, working with Stampede2 at the Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack

August 1, 2017

With its Radeon “Vega” Instinct datacenter GPUs and EPYC “Naples” server chips entering the market this summer, AMD has positioned itself for a two-head Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

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