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!

GTC21: Dell Building Cloud Native Supercomputers at U Cambridge and Durham

April 14, 2021

In conjunction with GTC21, Dell Technologies today announced new supercomputers at universities across DiRAC (Distributed Research utilizing Advanced Computing) in the UK with plans to explore use of Nvidia BlueField DPU Read more…

The Role and Potential of CPUs in Deep Learning

April 14, 2021

Deep learning (DL) applications have unique architectural characteristics and efficiency requirements. Hence, the choice of computing system has a profound impact on how large a piece of the DL pie a user can finally enj Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized i Read more…

Nvidia Aims Clara Healthcare at Drug Discovery, Imaging via DGX

April 12, 2021

Nvidia Corp. continues to expand its Clara healthcare platform with the addition of computational drug discovery and medical imaging tools based on its DGX A100 platform, related InfiniBand networking and its AGX develop Read more…

Nvidia Serves Up Its First Arm Datacenter CPU ‘Grace’ During Kitchen Keynote

April 12, 2021

Today at Nvidia’s annual spring GPU technology conference, held virtually once more due to the ongoing pandemic, the company announced its first ever Arm-based CPU, called Grace in honor of the famous American programmer Grace Hopper. Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Volkswagen Passenger Cars Uses NICE DCV for High-Performance 3D Remote Visualization

 

Volkswagen Passenger Cars has been one of the world’s largest car manufacturers for over 70 years. The company delivers more than 6 million automobiles to global customers every year, from 50 production locations on five continents. Read more…

Nvidia Debuts BlueField-3 – Its Next DPU with Big Plans for an Expanded Role

April 12, 2021

Nvidia today announced its next generation data processing unit (DPU) – BlueField-3 – adding more substance to its evolving concept of the DPU as a full-fledged partner to CPUs and GPUs in delivering advanced computi Read more…

The Role and Potential of CPUs in Deep Learning

April 14, 2021

Deep learning (DL) applications have unique architectural characteristics and efficiency requirements. Hence, the choice of computing system has a profound impa Read more…

Nvidia Serves Up Its First Arm Datacenter CPU ‘Grace’ During Kitchen Keynote

April 12, 2021

Today at Nvidia’s annual spring GPU technology conference, held virtually once more due to the ongoing pandemic, the company announced its first ever Arm-based CPU, called Grace in honor of the famous American programmer Grace Hopper. Read more…

Nvidia Debuts BlueField-3 – Its Next DPU with Big Plans for an Expanded Role

April 12, 2021

Nvidia today announced its next generation data processing unit (DPU) – BlueField-3 – adding more substance to its evolving concept of the DPU as a full-fle Read more…

Nvidia’s Newly DPU-Enabled SuperPod Is a Multi-Tenant, Cloud-Native Supercomputer

April 12, 2021

At GTC 2021, Nvidia has announced an upgraded iteration of its DGX SuperPods, calling the new offering “the first cloud-native, multi-tenant supercomputer.” Read more…

Tune in to Watch Nvidia’s GTC21 Keynote with Jensen Huang – Recording Now Available

April 12, 2021

Join HPCwire right here on Monday, April 12, at 8:30 am PT to see the Nvidia GTC21 keynote from Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang, livestreamed in its entirety. Hosted by HPCwire, you can click to join the Huang keynote on our livestream to hear Nvidia’s expected news and... Read more…

The US Places Seven Additional Chinese Supercomputing Entities on Blacklist

April 8, 2021

As tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, the U.S. government today added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to an economic blacklist. The U Read more…

Habana’s AI Silicon Comes to San Diego Supercomputer Center

April 8, 2021

Habana Labs, an Intel-owned AI company, has partnered with server maker Supermicro to provide high-performance, high-efficiency AI computing in the form of new Read more…

Intel Partners Debut Latest Servers Based on the New Intel Gen 3 ‘Ice Lake’ Xeons

April 7, 2021

Fresh from Intel’s launch of the company’s latest third-generation Xeon Scalable “Ice Lake” processors on April 6 (Tuesday), Intel server partners Cisco, Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo simultaneously unveiled their first server models built around the latest chips. And though arch-rival AMD may... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Programming the Soon-to-Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer, Frontier

January 5, 2021

What’s it like designing an app for the world’s fastest supercomputer, set to come online in the United States in 2021? The University of Delaware’s Sunita Chandrasekaran is leading an elite international team in just that task. Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of computer and information sciences, recently was named... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2021) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective Read more…

Microsoft, HPE Bringing AI, Edge, Cloud to Earth Orbit in Preparation for Mars Missions

February 12, 2021

The International Space Station will soon get a delivery of powerful AI, edge and cloud computing tools from HPE and Microsoft Azure to expand technology experi Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire