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!

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays 2017 Wraps Up in Barcelona

May 18, 2017

Barcelona has been absolutely lovely; the weather, the food, the people. I am, sadly, finishing my last day at PRACEdays 2017 with two sessions: an in-depth loo Read more…

By Kim McMahon

US, Europe, Japan Deepen Research Computing Partnership

May 18, 2017

On May 17, 2017, a ceremony was held during the PRACEdays 2017 conference in Barcelona to announce the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between PRACE in Europe Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NSF, IARPA, and SRC Push into “Semiconductor Synthetic Biology” Computing

May 18, 2017

Research into how biological systems might be fashioned into computational technology has a long history with various DNA-based computing approaches explored. N Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Supercomputers Helping Researchers Predict Climate Change

Today’s weather and climate scientists are tasked with analyzing a massive tidal wave of data in order to better understand and predict significant changes affecting the climate. Read more…

DOE’s HPC4Mfg Leads to Paper Manufacturing Improvement

May 17, 2017

Papermaking ranks third behind only petroleum refining and chemical production in terms of energy consumption. Recently, simulations made possible by the U.S. D Read more…

By John Russell

PRACEdays 2017: The start of a beautiful week in Barcelona

May 17, 2017

Touching down in Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, it was warm, sunny, and oh so Spanish. I was greeted at my hotel with a glass of Cava to sip and treated to a Read more…

By Kim McMahon

NSF Issues $60M RFP for “Towards a Leadership-Class” System

May 16, 2017

In case you missed it, the National Science Foundation issued the request for proposals (RFP) for the next ‘Towards a Leadership-Class Computing Facility – Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

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

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

IBM PowerAI Tools Aim to Ease Deep Learning Data Prep, Shorten Training 

May 10, 2017

A new set of GPU-powered AI software announced by IBM today brings automation to many of the tedious, time consuming and complex aspects of AI project on-rampin Read more…

By Doug Black

Bright Computing 8.0 Adds Azure, Expands Machine Learning Support

May 9, 2017

Bright Computing, long a prominent provider of cluster management tools for HPC, today released version 8.0 of Bright Cluster Manager and Bright OpenStack. The Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Azure Will Debut Pascal GPU Instances This Year

May 8, 2017

As Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference gets underway in San Jose, Calif., Microsoft today revealed plans to add Pascal-generation GPU horsepower to its Azure clo 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

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

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

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne 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 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w 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

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

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 Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn't made the task of parallel progr Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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