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!

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a community infrastructure in support of machine learning research Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA Continues Investment in Post-Moore’s Technologies

July 24, 2017

The U.S. military long ago ceded dominance in electronics innovation to Silicon Valley, the DoD-backed powerhouse that has driven microelectronic generation for decades. With Moore's Law clearly running out of steam, the Read more…

By George Leopold

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in 2017 with scale-up production for enterprise datacenters and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged

July 19, 2017

Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the Nationa Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a comm Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Intel Skylake: Xeon Goes from Chip to Platform

July 13, 2017

With yesterday’s New York unveiling of the new “Skylake” Xeon Scalable processors, Intel made multiple runs at multiple competitive threats and strategic Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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