The Best of HPC in 2014

By HPCwire Staff

January 27, 2015

As we turn the page to 2015, we’re taking a look back at the top stories from 2014 to reflect on just how far the fastest machines in the world (and the people who run them) have come within only 12 months. From the blending of big data and HPC to hardware breakthroughs, 2014 points to big things in store for 2015 and beyond, whether we’re talking about HPC for enterprise or the path to exascale.

2014Along the way we’ve seen leaps toward achieving functional quantum computers, advancements in accelerators, steps toward building more energy-efficient systems, as well as big news from major players such as IBM, Intel and NVIDIA. And from basic science to healthcare, we’ve seen supercomputers take a leading role in research efforts that have saved lives and granted us a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Below we’ve selected the top stories from the HPCwire archive that highlight the course of the industry throughout 2014 as well as paint an ever-sharper image of what’s in store for the coming year.

The Future of Accelerator Programming

Thanks to their performance, energy efficiency, and affordability, accelerators have taken on leading role in PCs, mobile devices and supercomputers alike. And as the technology became more ubiquitous, programs had to be written or retooled to take advantage of the heterogenous architecture. But accelerator programming is not without its difficulties, as contributing writers Kamil Rocki and Martin Burtscher show us in this feature article that helped to kick off 2014.

Read more…

IBM’s New Deal Captures Refocused HPC Strategy

With the sale of its x86 business to Lenovo, 2014 marked a year of questions about what would be in store for IBM and its HPC customers. We sat down with Dave Turek, IBM’s Vice Predisent of Advanced Computing to find out more about Big Blue’s grand plan for HPC’s future.

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How HPC is Hacking Hadoop

Although 2014 started out with only a few instances where Hadoop and HPC were beginning to overlap, the trend of big data in supercomputing became one of the year’s prevailing themes. Join us as we take a closer look at the research that is making this merger possible, taking a closer look at: Hadoop for data-intensive science, adapting MapReduce to an HPC environment, exploring it across different parallel file systems, handling scheduling and more.

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Intel Etches HPC Niche with Xeon E7 V2

When Intel pulled back the curtain on the processors that would follow the Westmere line, the new Xeon E7 v2 series looked primed for enterprise big data and analytics. But with its 22 nanometer process, memory and AVX instruction capabilities, as well as its focus on reliability, the new processor looks to be better suited to HPC than one would first expect.

Read more…

Details Emerging on Japan’s Future Exascale System

Japan’s K Computer—a $1.38 billion exascale system slated for installation in 2019 and production in 2020–is now underway.

According to the roadmap put forth by Yoshio Kawaguchi from Japan’s Office for Promotion of Computing Science/MEXT, basic development for the future system now taking a close look at software, accelerator, processor and scientific project planning fronts.

Read more…

Inside Major League Baseball’s “Hypothesis Machine”

With over 140 years’ worth of box scores, batting averages and RBIs, data has always been an essential part of baseball culture. But as that data goes digital, leading MLB managers and scouts are investing in analytics and even supercomputing to help them gain a competitive edge.

Read more…

Big Science; Tiny Microservers: IBM Research Pushes 64-Bit Possibilities

When a friend dropped a Sheeva Plug into the hands of Ronald Luijten, a system designer at IBM Research in Zurich, neither could have imagined the development cycles that moment would set in motion.

Requiring remarkably low wattage, the Sheeva Plug was a key ingredient for IBM and SKA/ASTRON to begin a journey away from power-hungry systems and into the realm of microservers.

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What Power8 and OpenPOWER Might Mean for HPC

In the aftermath of its deal to sell off its x86 servers to Lenovo, IBM has a new heading to hybridization as it looks to join its POWER8 processors with accelerators and high-speed networking, as well as opening up its chip and system software through the OpenPOWER Foundation. While Big Blue has placed an emphasis on hyperscale Web applications and data analytics, we’re taking a closer look at how the new technology will undoubtedly fit right into the realm of traditional HPC as well.

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Quantum Processor Hits 99.9 Percent Reliability Target

In April of this past year, physicists at UC Santa Barbara leapt toward the goal of a fully functional quantum computer in an effort that could be key to breaking through Moore’s Law. While this step forward is admittedly small scale–featuring superconducting qubits–the advancement could eventually enable large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum circuits.

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Detailed Results from 2014’s TOP500 Fastest Supercomputers List

In 2014, it came as no surprise that the Chinese Tianhe-2 system, which blew all others out of the water when it was announced the year before, easily defended its peak spot on the TOP500 list. But perhaps even more notably, with the exception of a 3.14-petaflop Cray XC30 at an undisclosed U.S. government site, there were no shakeups in the list’s top ten at all.

What’s making news instead is an emerging trend that translates as lost list share for the United States. Total US contributions to the TOP500 fell from 265 to 233 – while the number of Chinese systems only grows.

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First Details Emerge from Cray on Trinity Supercomputer

In one of the largest awards in the company’s history, Cray has signed a $174 million deal with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for a next-generation Cray XC machine called Trinity. Aimed at handling the agency’s nuclear stockpile by simulating maintenance, degradation and even destruction of reserves, the system will reportedly be equipped with an 82-petabyte capacity Cray Sonexion storage system, and is proposed to be capable of 30 petaflops.

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Is This the Exascale Breakthrough We’ve Been Waiting for?

Last year, UK-based startup Optalysys posted a video that made waves, detailing a prototype optical processor that claims it lap its electronic counterparts while slashing cost and power consumption. Not only that, but the company says it is on track to deliver exascale levels of processing power on a standard-sized desktop computer within the next few years.

Read more…

Jellyfish Use Novel Search Strategy

As we push to give computer intelligence human qualities, researchers are finding evidence of computing-like behavior in the animal kingdom. According to a paper published in August, 2014, a UK scientist has discovered that certain species of jellyfish finds food by using a supercomputing algorithm called “fast simulated annealing.”

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Will 2015 Be the Year of the FPGA?

FPGAs, while still outshined by the flops offered by GPUs and Xeon Phi, are poised to branch out into wider markets and gain traction for those focused on the “three Ps,” thanks to their increasingly attractive price, performance, and programmability. And as big data finds a home in HPC, FPGAs are taking root in search-centric areas, whether it’s a simple web, or search and discovery applications in bioinformatics, security, image recognition and beyond.

Read more…

Intel ‘Haswell’ Xeon E5s Aimed Squarely at HPC

As Intel rolled out its “Haswell” Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors for servers and workstation, it became clear that the chipmaker plans to keep the line firmly rooted in HPC, as evidenced by new features that are primed to deliver a performance boost for modeling and simulation tools.

Read more…

CORAL Signals New Dawn for Exascale Ambitions

For those who thought the architecture for next-wave supercomputers was set, the upcoming CORAL systems – pre-exascale contracts from the DOE worth $325 million – are bound to shake up expectations.

What’s particularly unique about the systems (beyond the scope of the DOEs investment) is that they could change how national labs approach energy consumption, prioritization of scientific and security challenges, and perhaps even the US’s current position as national supercomputing power.

Read more…

Supercomputing Wrap: Top Stories from SC14

For anyone present at SC14, it should come as no surprise that the CORAL systems were the top announcements at SC14, followed closely by IBM and the future of Power systems for HPC. According to IDC analysts, IBM and Lenovo’s reemergence as dominant players in the supercomputing industry could soon mean big changes for the TOP500 list as both companies look poised to topple HP from its top spot.

Read more…

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