Iconic Supercomputing Vendor Charts Comeback

By Tiffany Trader

June 24, 2014

Today at ISC14 Cray announced a $54 million contract with the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) for two next-generation Cray XC supercomputers and a Cray Sonexion storage system. This latest win, however, is just part of a larger story about a supercomputing company that is still very much relevant four decades after founder Seymour Cray helped spawn an industry with the famed Cray-1.

Since the beginning of the year, Cray has announced six contracts from a portfolio that includes its flagship XC supercomputers and CS300 systems as well as its Adaptive Storage solution. In addition to the KMA deal, the company has signed agreements with the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program, the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, the North German Supercomputing Alliance (HLRN), National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Recent success aside, Cray faced some tumultuous periods in the 90s as foreign competition increased and it had to compete with the likes of Fujitsu and Hitachi. The company originally known as Cray Research was acquired by Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) in 1996 and then sold to Tera Computer Company in 2000, before being reborn as Cray Inc. Some difficult restructuring followed and Peter Ungaro was promoted to CEO in 2004. Ungaro and his team decided that instead of fighting the commodity microprocessor trend, they would exploit it by focusing on multicore chips.

In the decade since Ungaro took the helm, the company has mounted a robust comeback, and one of the signs that this strategy is paying off is Cray’s strong showing in the recent TOP500 list. For starters, three of the top ten spots are occupied by Cray systems. Titan, a 17.59 petaflop (LINPACK) Cray KK7 cluster, has been sitting pretty in the number two spot since June 2013 when China’s Tianhe-2 knocked Titan from its first place perch. Cray also claims the number six spot (with the 6.27 petaflop Swiss “Piz Daint”) and the number ten spot, an undisclosed US government system, running at 3.14 petaflops. As we mentioned in yesterday’s detailed TOP500 coverage, this mysterious Cray XC30 is the only new addition to the coveted top 10 echelon.

Drilling down into the list to examine vendor share also turns up some revealing insight. Cray currently sits in third position with 50 systems, 10 percent of the total. HP enjoys a 36.4 percent share (down from 39 percent in November), and IBM is just behind HP with 35.2 percent (up from 33 percent on the previous list). Rounding out fourth and fifth place by list share, are SGI (with 3.8 percent) and Bull (with 3.4 percent). If you prefer to slice and dice based on performance as opposed to system share, the ordering stays the same: IBM, HP, Cray, SGI and Bull.

Cray-TOP500-history

 

Cray’s TOP500 system count

Perhaps the most interesting data point of all, though, is Cray’s historical system count (depicted above). As one of the first supercomputing vendors, established in the early 70s, Cray’s participation in the TOP500 list reaches all the way to the inaugural publication in June 1993, when the company enjoyed a short-lived but remarkable 41 percent list share with 205 systems. Since that ground-breaking debut, Cray has seen its list share drop steadily until a low point of 10 systems in November 2004. Since then, though, the company has managed to reverse course, rising to 50 systems with the current list – that’s an increase of 40 systems over 19 lists – in the same timeframe that Ungaro has been CEO.

For additional context, Fujitsu and TMC tied for second place with 54 systems each for a 10.8 percent share on the first official TOP500 list. Of course the pool of HPC-systems vendors was a lot smaller then and has since proliferated. The June 1993 list includes 14 vendors in total and the most recent has 32, including the “self-made” category, which refers to clusters made in the Amazon Web Services cloud. Also remember those were really were specialized machines back then, a different architecture set than what exists today.

These data points at the top of the HPC market along with the success of its XC line are signs that Cray is working hard to bring the company back to a profitable state. Recall that Cray is also peddling its big data-oriented Urika appliances, but these customers tend to be the close-to-the-vest sort who like to remain anonymous.

Despite having well-received products and strong customer retention, the supercomputing company has in recent years struggled to meet Wall Street expectations – but that’s often the way it goes in this space. It’s clear that Cray is working hard to reverse this tide and with several multi-million system deals under its belt this year, the company can bank on steady revenues for a couple years. Shares of Cray are currently up more than 2 percent today to 25.78 at publication, giving the company a valuation just north of one billion dollars.

Further Cray ISC14 news

Cray also revealed today that it joined the OpenStack Foundation as a Corporate Sponsor. Cray says it will contribute to OpenStack and work to integrate open source capabilities into future Cray products and services to “benefit the supercomputing industry.”

The OpenStack news continues the open source theme from the previous day, when Cray announced that it would be extending its Tiered Adaptive Storage (TAS) to the Lustre user community.

“The Cray TAS connector for Lustre provides customers with a simplified way to both protect and move data across storage tiers and locations, from high-performance storage to deep-tape archives,” explained Cray.

“A key strategy for Cray is building on open systems,” remarked company vice president of storage and data management Barry Bolding. “While other tiered storage systems are proprietary, we continue to invest in Linux and open format data movement technologies. The Cray TAS connector for Lustre will work on any Linux or Lustre environment, regardless of vendor.”

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!

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, provided a brief but insightful portrait of Nvidia’s rese Read more…

By John Russell

ORNL Helps Identify Challenges of Extremely Heterogeneous Architectures

March 21, 2019

Exponential growth in classical computing over the last two decades has produced hardware and software that support lightning-fast processing speeds, but advancements are topping out as computing architectures reach thei Read more…

By Laurie Varma

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller

March 21, 2019

On the heels of Intel's reaffirmation that it will deliver the first U.S. exascale computer in 2021, which will feature the company's new Intel Xe architecture, we bring you our interview with our 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller, head of the Silicon Engineering Group at Intel. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Insurance: Where’s the Risk?

Insurers are facing extreme competitive challenges in their core businesses. Property and Casualty (P&C) and Life and Health (L&H) firms alike are highly impacted by the ongoing globalization, increasing regulation, and digital transformation of their client bases. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: TensorFlow, Buddy Compression, Intel Optane & More

March 20, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, Read more…

By John Russell

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and has been in business for only a fraction of the time, Nvidia continues to impress with an expanding array of new GPU-based hardware, software, robotics, partnerships and... Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This