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!

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 programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Answered Prayers for High Frequency Traders? Latency Cut to 20 Nanoseconds

January 23, 2017

“You can buy your way out of bandwidth problems. But latency is divine.”

This sentiment, from Intel Technical Computing Group CTO Mark Seager, seems as old as the Bible, a truth universally acknowledged. Read more…

By Doug Black

CMU’s Latest “Card Shark” – Libratus – is Beating the Poker Pros (Again)

January 20, 2017

It’s starting to look like Carnegie Mellon University has a gambling problem – can’t stay away from the poker table. Read more…

By John Russell

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Enhancing Patient Care with Next-Generation Sequencing

In the ever-evolving world of life sciences, speed, accuracy, and savings are more important than ever. Today’s scientists and healthcare professionals are leveraging high-performance computing (HPC) solutions to solve the world’s greatest health problems and accelerate the diagnoses and treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Read more…

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Jan. 19, 2017)

January 19, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN to Partner on ARM and Exascale

January 19, 2017

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN institute announced a multi-faceted five-year collaboration to advance HPC generally and prepare for exascale computing. Among the particulars are efforts to: build out the ARM ecosystem; work on code development and code sharing on the existing and future platforms; share expertise in specific application areas (material and seismic sciences for example); improve techniques for using numerical simulation with big data; and expand HPC workforce training. It seems to be a very full agenda. Read more…

By Nishi Katsuya and John Russell

ARM Waving: Attention, Deployments, and Development

January 18, 2017

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…

By John Russell

Women Coders from Russia, Italy, and Poland Top Study

January 17, 2017

According to a study posted on HackerRank today the best women coders as judged by performance on HackerRank challenges come from Russia, Italy, and Poland. 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 programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Answered Prayers for High Frequency Traders? Latency Cut to 20 Nanoseconds

January 23, 2017

“You can buy your way out of bandwidth problems. But latency is divine.”

This sentiment, from Intel Technical Computing Group CTO Mark Seager, seems as old as the Bible, a truth universally acknowledged. Read more…

By Doug Black

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN to Partner on ARM and Exascale

January 19, 2017

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN institute announced a multi-faceted five-year collaboration to advance HPC generally and prepare for exascale computing. Among the particulars are efforts to: build out the ARM ecosystem; work on code development and code sharing on the existing and future platforms; share expertise in specific application areas (material and seismic sciences for example); improve techniques for using numerical simulation with big data; and expand HPC workforce training. It seems to be a very full agenda. Read more…

By Nishi Katsuya and John Russell

ARM Waving: Attention, Deployments, and Development

January 18, 2017

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…

By John Russell

Spurred by Global Ambitions, Inspur in Joint HPC Deal with DDN

January 17, 2017

Inspur, the fast-growth cloud computing and server vendor from China that has several systems on the current Top500 list, and DDN, a leader in high-end storage, have announced a joint sales and marketing agreement to produce solutions based on DDN storage platforms integrated with servers, networking, software and services from Inspur. Read more…

By Doug Black

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

UberCloud Cites Progress in HPC Cloud Computing

January 10, 2017

200 HPC cloud experiments, 80 case studies, and a ton of hands-on experience gained, that’s the harvest of four years of UberCloud HPC Experiments. Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch and Burak Yenier

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

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