This Week in HPC News

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 14, 2014

It’s been a packed week here at HPCwire, with several news and insight items spanning the globe. We’ll touch on key announcements and insights from the weeks news, which complement some deeper reporting on developments at Intel, Altair, Panasas, and others. But first, let’s hit some highlights from beyond the headlines…

One of the more popular features this week was heavy on sound and light on text—in one of our latest daily Soundbite podcast episodes, we talked with Dr. Jeff Hittnger from Lawrence Livermore about his work on an in-depth report with co-author, Dr. Jack Dongarra. The report, named “Applied Mathematics Research for Exascale Computing”, aims to identify mathematics and algorithms research opportunities on the horizon that will allow future applications to take advantage of exascale-class systems.

Speaking of the podcast series, this week’s daily editions also included detailed conversations with a number of researchers and HPC leaders you might know, including Jan Odegard, who heads up the Rice University HPC Oil and Gas Workshop, which just wrapped up last week. In addition to reviewing top themes from the sessions, we take a broader look at what the system and software needs of that industry look like going forward.

Also this week on Soundbite, we also discussed key initiatives in data-intensive computing with Dr. Natasha Balac at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, who serves as Director of the Predictive Analytics Center of Excellence, as well as Dr. Gil Compo, who is using massive, diverse weather data from historical archives and current collection points for the 20th Century Weather Reanalysis Project. These and other podcasts in our series can be found in list form here.

Rounding out some key audio-based discussions from the week, we wanted to point to a conversation with Dr. Ari Berman from BioTeam, Dr. Philip Blood of Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and James Reaney from SGI, all of whom gathered to explore the topic of Knowledge Discovery & Data Mining (KDD) for large-scale datasets in a webinar we conducted. It’s not exactly what you’d expect when you hear the word “webinar” either as it’s not necessarily a product pitch… it’s a frank discussion of some of the computational and data challenges many of you face, at least from what we’ve understood from our conversations over the years. We were able to take a deep dive into some of the most demanding life sciences challenges in research through the eyes of both Dr. Blood and Dr. Berman, with James Reaney putting it into shared memory context. Yes, you have to register. But it’s worth the two minutes.

This Week’s Top News Items

craylogoCray At Home with New Manufacturing Facility in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.With the addition of this second facility and with recent upgrades to its existing primary manufacturing site, Cray has roughly doubled its manufacturing capacity. As a result, Cray supercomputers will continue to be made in the same city where Cray was originally founded – Chippewa Falls.

The new facility is equipped to manufacture Cray’s complete line of supercomputing products, including Cray XC30 supercomputers, Cray CS300 cluster supercomputers, the YarcData Urika appliance, and Cray Sonexion storage solutions. Cray purchased the building in October 2013 and recently completed significant interior modifications and upgrades. The facility is currently fully operational. Cray systems will also continue to be manufactured at its existing facility, also in Chippewa Falls.

Xian-He Sun, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology and creator of Sun-Ni’s law—one of three scalable computing laws along with Amdahl’s law and Gustafson’s law—has established a new mathematical model for reducing data access delay. Called “Concurrent Average Memory Access Time (C-AMAT),” it promises to cut the penalty associated with accessing data and increase speed by up to 100 times through parallel memory access, which in turn will create a “break” in  the memory-wall problem. More information can be found here.

Fraunhofer’s parallel file system FhGFS is available in updated form with two significant new features. While last year’s major release was primarily focused on metadata server improvements, the focus for the new release was on performance optimizations on the storage server side. Under the hood, the storage servers now create an innovative new data layout that uses user- and time-based grouping of chunk files. This approach reduces disk seeks significantly by improving the cache efficiency of the underlying server file system and helps to avoid aging-related performance reductions. More visible to the user is a new option for connection-based authentication between clients and servers using a pre-shared secret.

Maxeler CEO met with European leaders about the design of dataflow engines and its particular use in the finance industry where stock exchanges and banks employ the engines to accelerate risk analytics in real-time. The company was able to demonstrate its Dataflow engine to British PM David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, highlighting the need for continued development and support of similar technologies for European competitiveness.

On the Road

For those of you who like to be out and about, here are a few announcements of interest before we close for the week.

Apply Now for the ACM/IEEE-CS George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowship

HPCS 2014 Issues Call for Papers and Participation

XSEDE14 Deadline for Submissions Extended

SEAK 2014 Issues Call for Posters

EGI Community Forum Agenda is Now Online

On a final note, if you haven’t already booked your hotel for ISC14′ in Leipzig, the time to do so is now…from what I understand, hotel rooms are getting harder to come by. The Westin and other popular sites near the main station are full. This means it will be another packed show–but also means the time to act is now. For those staying in Europe, we’ll be on hand at TeraTec the week following ISC for more coverage in Europe. Can’t wait to see you all there–

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