This Week in HPC News

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 3, 2014

Welcome to April—as you may have noticed, we passed on playing any foul April Fool’s Day tricks on you, although there were a few suggestions from readers about likely topics. Our favorite among these ideas was, “U.S. Government Sees Exascale Light, Grants $1 Billion for Development”… it was funny, but only for a second. Actually writing a trick article would have been…well…rather a sad thing since making up joke quotes about the government seeing the benefits might have hit a bit close to the chest.

But moving on, this week brought plenty of real news to offer up with conference and event season starting to ramp up. Here at HPCwire, we were able to get a slight bit of additional information on that storied Cray system that one of the major league baseball teams bought. Interestingly, this is no standard cluster, but rather one of their YarcData Urika appliances designed to tackle memory-bound graph analytics challenges. More details on that can be found here. If any of you have a few million to spare and are interested in purchasing one of these boxes for your fantasy football or baseball team, please do let us know. We’ll definitely give you some coverage.

475982625Another topic that’s been circulating is that the HPC server market is on the decline. This talk was based on IDC’s late March numbers that reflected a sizable dip. However, for those who took a closer look at those figures, they were skewed due to some factors that caused fluctuation between years versus demonstrating any real negative trend. IDC’s Steve Conway provides us with several details in our overview of what the numbers actually mean for the market—and it’s a much brighter picture.

We were rather excited to see movement on another geographical front this week with Russian supercomputer maker RSC Group pushing the compute density limits to the extreme again. The company has upgraded its PetaStream system with a new variant of the Xeon Phi X86 coprocessor from Intel.

With the upgrade, RSC is able to push the peak theoretical performance of a single rack of the PetaStream system by 20 percent, to 1.2 petaflops. The increase in floating point processing power is made possible by shifting to the top-end Xeon Phi 7120D coprocessor, which Intel quietly delivered in March. RSC says that it is the first of the supercomputer makers to get its hands on this device.

In Other Top News This Week

451007627Schrödinger and Cycle Computing announced a partnership that will allow customers to run Schrödinger’s Materials Science Suite on the Cloud and elastic resources worldwide using Cycle Computing’s CycleCloud orchestration software.

Cycle Computing and Schrödinger have worked together on enabling many customer production workloads in the cloud, including the world’s largest and fastest cloud computing run of more than 156,000 cores called the MegaRun in late 2013.

478186469The IEEE Launches 400GbE Task Force – The IEEE 802.3 Working Group and the IEEE 400Gb/s Study Group on the formation of the IEEE P802.3bs Task Force. The new group is chartered with the development of the IEEE P802.3bs 400 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) project, which will define Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC) parameters, physical layer specifications, and management parameters for the transfer of Ethernet format frames at 400Gb/s.

The iRODS Consortium  announced the release of iRODS 4.0, a sustainable and production-oriented version of the iRODS (integrated Rule-Oriented Data System) data management platform.

Key features of the new iRODS release include:

  • A plugin architecture, which enables easy customization of iRODS installations without recompiling the core code.
  • A binary distribution, allowing users to click and use iRODS, eliminating the need to compile the installation.
  • Resource composition, which allows users to create a hierarchy of iRODS resources.

Micron announced it is ramping production of DDR4 memory to support upcoming Intel CPU launches. The improved power and performance of DDR4 technology is a critical requirement for the growing enterprise computing market, delivering a power improvement of up to 35% compared to standard DDR3.

Micron is ramping its 4Gb-based DDR4 module production at 2133 megatransfers per second (MT/s) in support of Intel’s Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family-based systems. Micron is also sampling a 2400 MT/s device in anticipation of follow-on products targeted for 2015.

Mellanox Ready to Roll with Cloudera’s Hadoop distro. The company announced this week that its FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand, 10Gb/s and 40Gb/s Ethernet solutions are fully certified on Cloudera 5. Mellanox has been certified on all previous versions of Cloudera solutions, including CDH3 and CDH4, so customers can securely deploy their choice of data intensive applications delivering performance, resiliency and cost effectiveness, using Mellanox interconnect solutions.

On another note, Mellanox released its first quarter details, which can be found here.

A new leader for the NSF’s Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure has been named. Ms. Irene Qualters has been appointed to the position of Division Director, effective April 6, 2014. In this role, Irene will lead ACI in its mission to support and coordinate the prototyping, development, acquisition, and provisioning of state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure resources, tools, and services essential to the advancement and transformation of science and engineering.

Prior to her NSF career, Irene had a distinguished 30-year career in industry, with a number of executive leadership positions in the technology sector. During her twenty years at Cray Research, she participated in the development of the first commercially successful autovectorizing compiler, the first multiprocessor version of UNIX, and Cray’s landmark massively parallel computer, the T3E. For six years as Vice President, she led Information Systems for Merck Research Labs, focusing oninternational cyberinfrastructure to advance all phases of pharmaceutical R&D.

On the Road

HPC Advisory Council Announces European HPC Workshop in Conjunction with ISC’14

PBio 2014 Issues Call for Papers

PRACE Announces Summer of HPC

16 Universities Qualify for ASC14 Final

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It’s been a heady two weeks for the ARM HPC advocacy camp. At this week’s Mont-Blanc Project meeting held at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center, Cray announced plans to build an ARM-based supercomputer in the U.K. while Mont-Blanc selected Cavium’s ThunderX2 ARM chip for its third phase of development. Last week, France’s CEA and Japan’s Riken announced a deep collaboration aimed largely at fostering the ARM ecosystem. This activity follows a busy 2016 when SoftBank acquired ARM, OpenHPC announced ARM support, ARM released its SVE spec, Fujistu chose ARM for the post K machine, and ARM acquired HPC tool provider Allinea in December. Read more…

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