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!

Simulating Car Crashes with Supercomputers – and Lego

October 18, 2019

It’s an experiment many of us have carried out at home: crashing two Lego creations into each other, bricks flying everywhere. But for the researchers at the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) – which is comparabl Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

NASA Uses Deep Learning to Monitor Solar Weather

October 17, 2019

Solar flares may be best-known as sci-fi MacGuffins, but those flares – and other space weather – can have serious impacts on not only spacecraft and satellites, but also on Earth-based systems such as radio communic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Federated Learning Applied to Cancer Research

October 17, 2019

The ability to share and analyze data while protecting patient privacy is giving medical researchers a new tool in their efforts to use what one vendor calls “federated learning” to train models based on diverse data Read more…

By George Leopold

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

NSB 2020 S&E Indicators Dig into Workforce and Education

October 16, 2019

Every two years the National Science Board is required by Congress to issue a report on the state of science and engineering in the U.S. This year, in a departure from past practice, the NSB has divided the 2020 S&E Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Intel FPGAs: More Than Just an Accelerator Card

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

How Do We Power the New Industrial Revolution?

[Attend the IBM LSF, HPC & AI User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

Almost everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI). Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Rabies, Smog, Robots & More

October 14, 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

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

NSB 2020 S&E Indicators Dig into Workforce and Education

October 16, 2019

Every two years the National Science Board is required by Congress to issue a report on the state of science and engineering in the U.S. This year, in a departu Read more…

By John Russell

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Simulates Braking – on Mars

October 14, 2019

NASA is planning to send humans to Mars by the 2030s – and landing on the surface will be considerably trickier than landing a rover like Curiosity. To solve Read more…

By Staff report

Trovares Drives Memory-Driven, Property Graph Analytics Strategy with HPE

October 10, 2019

Trovares, a high performance property graph analytics company, has partnered with HPE and its Superdome Flex memory-driven servers on a cybersecurity capability the companies say “routinely” runs near-time workloads on 24TB-capacity systems... Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel, Lenovo Join Forces on HPC Cluster for Flatiron

October 9, 2019

An HPC cluster with deep learning techniques will be used to process petabytes of scientific data as part of workload-intensive projects spanning astrophysics to genomics. AI partners Intel and Lenovo said they are providing... Read more…

By George Leopold

Optimizing Offshore Wind Farms with Supercomputer Simulations

October 9, 2019

Offshore wind farms offer a number of benefits; many of the areas with the strongest winds are located offshore, and siting wind farms offshore ameliorates many of the land use concerns associated with onshore wind farms. Some estimates say that, if leveraged, offshore wind power... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Harvard Deploys Cannon, New Lenovo Water-Cooled HPC Cluster

October 9, 2019

Harvard's Faculty of Arts & Sciences Research Computing (FASRC) center announced a refresh of their primary HPC resource. The new cluster, called Cannon after the pioneering American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, is supplied by Lenovo... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: Neven’s Law (Who Asked for That), D-Wave’s Steady Push, IBM’s Li-O2- Simulation

July 3, 2019

Quantum computing’s (QC) many-faceted R&D train keeps slogging ahead and recently Japan is taking a leading role. Yesterday D-Wave Systems announced it ha Read more…

By John Russell

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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