Academic HPC and Cloud Services Start to Blur

By Wolfgang Gentzsch

August 6, 2014

Stuttgart HPC Center (HLRS) director Michael Resch will present the ISC Cloud keynote on “HPC & Simulation in the Cloud – How Academia & Industry Can Benefit,” at the conference this September. ISC Cloud, the fifth in the series, will take place September 29 and 30 in Heidelberg, Germany. As an HPC cloud skeptic in 2011, Resch characterized cloud computing as hype and predicted it would eventually go away.

In the following interview with Wolfgang Gentzsch, Chairman of the ISC Cloud Conference and President of the UberCloud, Resch explains why he has come to think much more favorably of HPC cloud over the last three years.

Gentzsch: Michael, thank you very much for making time for this interview, despite your many tasks and responsibilities at the Stuttgart Supercomputer Center. Would you please summarize your major roles at the center?

Resch: Thank you for this opportunity, Wolfgang. Here at the Stuttgart University I have three major jobs: I am the Director of the HPC Center HLRS, the Dean of the Faculty for Energy Process and Biotechnology, and the Director of the Information Center. As the director of HLRS, my major responsibilities are providing computing related services for academia and industry in the field of simulation research and delivering education and training.

Gentzsch: Traditionally HLRS is serving university and research centers in the field of high performance computing. But beyond this, and almost as an exception from the standard, I find it interesting that your center emphasizes on serving the industry as well. How did this happen?

Resch: Indeed we have a long tradition of working with local industry. As a technical university, we prepare our engineering students for the industry, which naturally leads to an excellent relationship with industry. In 1986 we started providing HPC services to Porsche, which grew into the foundation of the High Performance Computing Center for Science and Industry (HWW) in 1995. Today, we serve a dozen companies in the region, with 20 years of experience in providing computing and services, with Porsche still being our main customer.

Gentzsch: This sounds like an HPC cloud service model, with HWW as the service provider.

Resch: In fact, HWW is moving step by step toward providing HPC cloud services to industry, with one of our partners, T-Systems, providing packaged services that allow industry users to access our resources in a user-friendly way.

Gentzsch: Michael, three years ago, you predicted during a panel chat at the International Supercomputing Conference that cloud computing was just hype. But recently you said that the cloud provides a practical option for many users with large computing needs. Why did you change your mind?

Resch: When you look back three years, there were a lot of barriers when accessing and using cloud computing, especially in the HPC and engineering space. These barriers included things like licensing, transfer of large amounts of data, security issues, losing control over your simulation jobs, and others. Today we can see reasonable concepts and business models, especially for low-end HPC with only a few nodes, but still able to scale up if needed.

From an HPC center point of view, our own large scientific jobs plus the many small cloud workloads fill up a supercomputer nicely, thus increasing overall utilization of the system. For me, HPC cloud starts at the low end, with the potential of replacing the smaller systems in industry. Over time, we will see these smaller cloud workloads scaling up with the growing needs of the industry. And, we will see a similar trend in the universities. With a user-friendly HPC cloud services, departments will successively move away from their departmental systems.

Gentzsch: There is another important player in the mix -the government. As long as governments continue to support even small departments to buy their own HPC systems, a transition to a more cost-effective cloud model of pay-per-use will be slowed down very much.

Resch: Indeed! We have been confronted with this issue early on, and have had numerous discussions with our government about this. Our aim is to convince government to consider funding CPU time instead of small HPC servers. Another drawback of buying servers for university departments is that hundreds of these servers are maintained and operated by PhD students, which is a waste of brainware and time. We’d like to see researchers being freed up to fully concentrate on research instead. This means for us, in the end, that cloud is providing more freedom of research.

Gentzsch: And which role does HWW play within this ecosystem considering that traditional supercomputing is now evolving into a variety of more flexible computing models? And how complementary is SICOS BW GmbH in this mix?

Resch: Through HWW we are able to provide resources for small and medium scale jobs. We can fit these jobs nicely into our scientific mix of medium and large-scale jobs. At the same time, HWW will allow us to start contributing to a cloud service. HLRS would then be in a position to be a provider of cycles for a platform that might be open to any company worldwide.

SICOS has the key role of supporting small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs). For a while, we will have to give special support to these SMEs as they lack experience when it comes to using cloud resources. So, while HWW helps to expand our classical services into cloud services, SICOS helps to break out of the traditional markets and open new opportunities.

All of this is complemented by a training strategy, which we are currently developing. In 2016, we will open our new training centre. Six million Euros will be allocated to cover the cost of this project. With these new training facilities, we will be able to extend our training program to industry and especially SMEs. The combination of HLRS, HWW, SICOS and the Automotive Simulation Center Stuttgart (ASCS) will then be able to cover all aspects of HPC services, HPC research, HPC development and HPC training. Cloud services and methodology will be one pillar on which this strategy is based.

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!

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after several years of expectations, be the year OpenPOWER and IBM’ Read more…

By Doug Black

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 scientists the ability to use machine learning to identify e Read more…

By Rob Farber

Mellanox Reacts to Activist Investor Pressures in Letter to Shareholders

March 16, 2018

Activist investor Starboard Value has been exerting pressure on Mellanox Technologies to increase its returns. In response, the high-performance networking company on Monday, March 12, published a letter to shareholders outlining its proposal for a May 2018 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders and highlighting its long-term growth strategy and focus on operating margin improvement. Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Harness the Full Power of HPC Servers with an Effective Cooling Approach

High performance computing (HPC) innovation is rapidly transforming the way we operate – with an onslaught of cutting-edge technologies designed to optimize applications and workloads, increase productivity, and enable better business outcomes. Read more…

Quantum Computing vs. Our ‘Caveman Newtonian Brain’: Why Quantum Is So Hard

March 15, 2018

Quantum is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough. Within 10 to 12 years, we’re told, special-purpose quantum systems will enter the commercial realm. Assuming this happens, we can also assume that quantum will, over extended time, become increasingly general purpose as it delivers mind-blowing power. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after sev Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

Stephen Hawking, Legendary Scientist, Dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early morning of March 14; he was 76. Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking was an English theo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hyperion Tackles Elusive Quantum Computing Landscape

March 13, 2018

Quantum computing - exciting and off-putting all at once - is a kaleidoscope of technology and market questions whose shapes and positions are far from settled. Read more…

By John Russell

Part Two: Navigating Life Sciences Choppy HPC Waters in 2018

March 8, 2018

2017 was not necessarily the best year to build a large HPC system for life sciences say Ari Berman, VP and GM of consulting services, and Aaron Gardner, direct Read more…

By John Russell

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

SciNet Launches Niagara, Canada’s Fastest Supercomputer

March 5, 2018

SciNet and the University of Toronto today unveiled "Niagara," Canada's most-powerful supercomputer, comprising 1,500 dense Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 high-perfor 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

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi 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

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a 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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in 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

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

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

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

World Record: Quantum Computer with 46 Qubits Simulated

December 18, 2017

Scientists from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre have set a new world record. Together with researchers from Wuhan University and the University of Groningen, Read more…

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

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