Bull Charges Ahead in Supercomputing Despite Big Data Refocus

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 2, 2014

In many ways, Bull has been a mirror, reflecting companies like Cray from across the Atlantic. One on the one hand, both companies have deep roots in supercomputing, with particularly strong continental bases. Conversely, the arrival of the big data phenomenon has marked a chance for both companies to wrench free from strict supercomputing affiliations and find a new path to deliver high-end, high performance systems to an entirely new and rapidly class of potential enterprise users—customers who might not consider what they do to be exactly “HPC” but who have serious computational and data-driven needs that vanilla servers or database approaches can’t tackle.

While Cray, SGI, and a few other HPC-oriented companies have focused on rolling out appliances directed at the larger big data market (consider the Urika appliance from Cray as an example) Bull has seen the same opportunities in Europe (where it does 85% of its overall business) and taken similar steps to bake their reputation for large-scale computing for science and industrial supercomputing into new offerings aimed at more mainstream enterprise big data problems. Their “OneBull” vision, which was spelled out at the beginning of this year, is aimed at integrating the new business around big data and cloud computing as a top priority with 6% of all revenues being pushed into research and development, where they fit HPC and security together.

Breakdown of Bull's business reach by sector. Recall that 85% of this is in Europe, with 55% in its native France.
Breakdown of Bull’s business reach by sector. Recall that 85% of this is in Europe, with 55% in its native France.

Representative of this newly weighted approach to the extreme scale market (which can include both supercomputing and large-scale enterprise) is today’s announcement from Bull of their new line of servers. Called the Bullion S, these are more designed for the big data and cloud spaces. The new severs are designed to support up to 240 Xeon E7-based nodes with up to 24 TB of memory, making them a fit for in-memory, data-intensive workloads, but also those that require significant compute. Earlier in the year the company echoed what other HPC-rooted companies are doing to extend their customer base into the mainstream enterprise market with a big data appliance in conjunction with real-time search company Sinequa.

Although Bull is making moves to shake free from the narrower supercomputing distinction, the company is not leaving its HPC segment in the enterprise big data dust. The company had a strong showing at ISC last week in Leipzig, Germany in terms of news around fresh deployments and new technologies that will be integrated into future supercomputers. Still, the company has only a total of 17 systems on the Top500, with the top site at CEA (#26) and all but one of their systems in Europe (the exception being the Helios machine at the International Fusion Energy Research Center). This is an improvement for Bull, which had 10 systems total on the Top 500 in 2011 and a mere 5 machines in 2009.

Among new additions to their coming Top500 growth, the French national high performance computing organization, GENCI, is set to acquire a 2,106-node warm water-cooled system from Bull to boost a wide range of research projects. The new supercomputer, which is expected to come online in January 2015, will be called OCCIGEN and will be housed at CINES in Montpellier. It will be equipped with what Bull calls “next-generation Xeon processors” but there is no confirmation about which processors they’re referring to, but the logical assumption, since no one expects the real next-generation Xeon for HPC (Knight’s Landing) to emerge in time for an early 2015-slated system. Is that this means Xeon E7 v2 and/or Xeon Phi. Bull says only that at this point, the system has been designed to “accommodate hybrid technologies.”

The 2-petaflop OCCIGEN machine is expected to boast 200 TB of memory with an IO system to allow it to push data to task at over 100GB/s to meet the demands of large-scale scientific simulation and data-intensive research. The cold plate, warm water cooling system, which is designed to deliver component-level chilling, will push the PUE of the system to an expected 1.1 rating.

The National Center for Genome Analysis in Barcelona, which is one of the top genetic research sites in Europe, has also tapped Bull for a new system that will target large-scale gene sequencing projects. While details about the node count or type of system that was purchased are not public, the center’s director says that their problems demand more than “traditional computing” they’ve had to rely on in the past. “The solution is not to increase the number of sequencers. The key lies in the balance between sequencing and HPC. It’s not only about increasing sequencing capacity by acquiring new hardware, but designing and appropriate computing infrastructure…it is essential to choose a flexible architecture that can grow without limits the keep pace with genome projects,” he remarked.

In addition to the user stories we learned about during International Supercomputing Conference Week, Bull also announced a strategic partnership with another recently acquired company. Bull can now resell Xyratex (now part of Seagate) can resell ClusterStor offerings as part of their future system. The deal was inked with news about a technical partnership between the two for a contract at Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ) wherein Bull designed and installed a 3-petaflop Bullx B720 super outfitted with 45 petabytes of ClusterStor CS9000 parallel storage capable of 1TB/s of performance, which will help the climate simulation facility better handle its growing volumes of data.

With the One Bull plan in full effect and a recent acquisition by a company that is solely focused on enterprise big data and cloud computing, it will be interesting to see how the company’s investments in supercomputing will persist. At ISC there were no signs of reduced investment and the news of new wins show that there is still value in pursuing large-scale HPC sites.

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!

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that d Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competition. This is the twelfth time that teams of university undergr Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and much of the surrounding Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

New Data Management Techniques for Intelligent Simulations

The trend in high performance supercomputer design has evolved – from providing maximum compute capability for complex scalable science applications, to capacity computing utilizing efficient, cost-effective computing power for solving a small number of large problems or a large number of small problems. Read more…

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC impact at SC18. Most noteworthy is that five of 13 CAAR applic Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competitio Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC im Read more…

By John Russell

How ASCI Revolutionized the World of High-Performance Computing and Advanced Modeling and Simulation

November 9, 2018

The 1993 Supercomputing Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. That conference and it’s show floor provided a good snapshot of the uncertainty that U.S. supercomputing was facing in the early 1990s. Many of the companies exhibiting that year would soon be gone, either bankrupt or acquired by somebody else. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

At SC18: GM, Boeing, Deere, BP Talk Enterprise HPC Strategies

November 9, 2018

SC18 in Dallas (Nov.11-16) will feature an impressive series of sessions focused on the enterprise HPC deployments at some of the largest industrial companies: Read more…

By Doug Black

SC 30th Anniversary Perennials 1988-2018

November 8, 2018

Many conferences try, fewer succeed. Thirty years ago, no one knew if the first SC would also be the last. Thirty years later, we know it’s the biggest annual Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

CEA’s Pick of ThunderX2-based Atos System Boosts Arm

November 8, 2018

Europe’s bet on Arm took another step forward today with selection of an Atos BullSequana X1310 system by CEA’s (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Ener Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

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…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas 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