Cray Looks Ahead to Next Generation of Growth

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 7, 2014

It’s difficult to tell what kind of year lies ahead on the supercomputing systems sales side with so much riding on the upcoming release of key Intel products, particularly the new Knight’s Landing chips, among others in the future Xeon line. While the ecosystem might have been a bit more diverse a few years ago, when it comes to the downtime in advance of major architecture shifts, the mighty chipmaker is driving the train—and the rest of the cars aren’t moving until it puts the machine in gear.

This waiting game applies to several system vendors catering to HPC, including Bull, as we noted earlier While the big government-fed supercomputing and large-scale commercial HPC procurements for oil and gas companies might be reduced to a trickle for current generation systems, Cray too is expecting a boom in the coming years—one that can be heard far beyond the halls of supercomputing.

Even though the system vendors and large centers alike seem to be on hold waiting for a new rush of choices, some have already announced new machines to sport the future Intel products, including NERSC with its Cori supercomputer—one that will feature the next-generation Knight’s Landing cards with on-package memory. This Cray-built machine will be one of many we can expect coming in the new wave of procurements down the line, said Cray CEO, Pete Ungaro during a sit-down with us at ISC.

Part of what gives Ungaro comfort is that their entire business isn’t riding on the massive supercomputers that drove over 90% of their business in the past. He says that while they’re still a supercomputer company with unshakable roots in HPC, they’re seeing an unprecedented opportunity to push farther past that affiliation given the data-driven demands of enterprise users in markets that might never call what they do HPC—and which might not be, if applications are definitive. In the last two years they’ve bolstered their storage profile, added “big data” products to the mix, including a graph analytics appliance, and diversified the capabilities of their systems to span a wider area of enterprise workloads.

Last year at ISC he told us that around 10% of Cray’s business was commercial-this year, he expects that number to inch closer to the 20% mark, leaving them less dependent on the slings and arrows of product delays for supercomputing-specific processors (Knight’s Landing again the example) and more capable of filling any gaps with new outreach into enterprise.

The fact is, says Ungaro, more users across a wider swath of business aren’t getting what they need from vanilla commercial systems and they’re exploring options leverage some creative systems engineering to enable their work on both the data and computational horsepower fronts. In addition to focusing on their HPC bread-and-butter business, their targets in the coming year are around, you guessed it, big data via their storage and graph appliance product lines as well as striving toward “openness” via a few key moves through support of the OpenStack foundation, among other things.

While he agreed that Cray’s first quarter results don’t necessarily reflect the growth he described, he cautioned us to sit tight for some big announcements on both the procurements and product fronts this coming year. And besides, Cray, like many companies in the HPC systems business, isn’t one to be judged on a quarter-by-quarter basis since large procurements and other acts of funding can skew results, just as we’re seeing in recent times. After all, what major procurement cycle wouldn’t push farther out to wait for what’s coming when it promises more compute, efficient and I/O than what’s current available. While this makes sense, there aren’t any formal official dates for the launch of new Intel HPC products, although we’re pretty well aware this is later 2015, perhaps into 2016.

Even if the most recent numbers aren’t reflecting it, Cray is well positioned as a company with strong engineering, its interconnect and software ecosystems, and an increasingly diverse customer base. And of course, not everyone at the large-scale supercomputing level is sitting around waiting on the sparklier, newer things. There are plenty of users who have no need to wait for the next big thing from Intel. For instance, at ISC Cray announced a $54 million contract to provide the Korean Meteorological Administration two next-generation “Cascade” Cray XC systems coupled with their Sonexion storage. Most major weather forecasting centers buy pairs of systems, both because of the mission-critical nature of their operations as well as to test and run other applications in addition to the weather models. You might recall a discussion last year on this topic with Cray CEO Pete Ungaro and Isabella Weger from ECMWF—another major weather modeling and forecasting user of the Cascade systems.

They’ve sold other big systems this year, including an XC30 to the Hong Kong Santorium and Hospital for gene sequencing and life sciences research. Additionally, they’re seeing solid business on the storage front, evidenced by the adoption of the Cray Tiered Adaptive Storage (TAS) at the North German Supercomputing Alliance. With the growth on the storage side, coupled with the recent news that they’re hooking Lustre into TAS, they seem to be looking to continue the fine balance between big data storage and management needs with the HPC engineering bent they’re known for.

Notice that aside from the Cori system, these are Asian supercomputing deals, which adds light to Ungaro’s statement that they’re expanding their worldwide footprint with new centers around the globe. While we didn’t get a sense of when these would open, Europe and Asia are new targets—and places where they have key installations already at weather and research centers (and likely commercial operations they’re not allowed to discuss).

In other words, Cray and others should have big procurement news around Supercomputing and a new slew of them at next year’s ISC—and then things get interesting again. By mid-2016, into 2016, the hope is few options for processors will broaden and a new competitive (read as more interesting and diverse) ecosystem will emerge. OpenPower is promising. ARM is promising. AMD will probably do…something. NVIDIA with its IBM partnership and continued growth around CUDA and its own accelerators will continue to be a force. The ecosystem isn’t “on hold” since not everyone is waiting on the shiniest new toys, but it’s going to be quieter on the procurement side for a while—just as it has been SC last year.

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 Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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