Toward a Converged Exascale-Big Data Software Stack

By Tiffany Trader

January 28, 2016

Within the HPC vendor and science community, the groundswell of support for HPC and big data convergence is undeniable with sentiments running the gamut from the pragmatic to the enthusiastic. For Argonne computer scientist and HPC veteran Pete Beckman, the writing is on the wall. As the leader of the Argo exascale software project and one of the principal organizers of the workshop series on Big Data and Extreme-scale Computing (BDEC), Beckman and his collaborators are helping to usher in a new era in research computing, where one machine will be capable of meeting the needs of the extreme-scale simulation and data analysis communities.

The BDEC series of international workshops that Beckman is leading along with Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee is premised on the need to systematically map out the ways in which the major issues associated with big data intersect and interact with plans for achieving exascale computing. The overarching goal of BDEC is to create an international collaborative process focused on the co-design of software infrastructure necessary to support both big data and extreme computing for scientific discovery. The effort aligns with one of the primary objectives of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI): “Increasing coherence between the technology base used for modeling and simulation and that used for data analytic computing.”

Beckman maintains that these two worlds need to come together to solve bigger and more exciting science problems, and the base technologies themselves are becoming more closely related. “The convergence is happening,” he says.

The extreme-scale computing community, represented by the top 30-40 systems on the TOP500 list, has been singularly focused on extreme simulation and modeling and computing, very often to the exclusion of other communities and technologies, Beckman notes.

“What we’re finding, what the world is finding, is that the big data community, which also has extremely rich problems and exciting problems in correlating massive amounts of data from astronomy, from genomics, and other areas, has very similar needs to the HPC community, but it’s not currently exactly aligned. So these communities sometimes have to build their own infrastructure or develop their own infrastructure that maybe doesn’t run or isn’t supported easily on the HPC software stack and also with respect to the HPC architecture, the actual hardware, architecture and arrangement of components,” he says.

The divide between these two ecosystems is nicely illustrated in the following slide from a presentation that Beckman delivered with Dan Reed of the University of Iowa at the SC15 BDEC workshop.

SC15 BDEC workshop: Exascale and Big Data Convergence, divergent ecosystems slide

On the left side is represented a whole set of technologies that the big data analysis community has embraced, but can appear as “strange words” to the HPCers, says Beckman.

“Not only do they not make sense to the HPC community, they also require operationally a different way to use the system,” Beckman expounds. “So while the HPC community, for example, is very comfortable submitting a large-scale simulation and expecting it will take eight hours or longer before it starts, the analysis community expects to be able to load very large databases into scalable systems and then make queries all day long, 24/7 all year.”

A question posed on the next slide drives home the dichotomy: “Have you ever requested compute and storage for years of continuous data analysis?”

“That just runs contrary to the way we currently imagine the top ten systems in the world,” says Beckman. “No one expects ten percent of a big machine like that to be given over to continuous database queries on climate data or on astronomy data or on genomics data. What we’re finding is that the low level — and this is where we get into Argo — that there are several places where convergence can happen. There really can be a set of software tools and operating system pieces and schedulers and cloud support that can assist both communities, and that is where we are going — that’s the future.”

Argo is an exascale-focused operating system framework that is being designed from the ground up to support the emerging and future needs of both communities. The project aims to strike a balance between reusing software stack components where it makes sense and adding custom efforts when it matters. “At the heart of our project, at the node, we’re leveraging Linux components, and then adding in those pieces of technology that high-performance computing applications need: special kinds of high-performance computing containers, special kinds of power management components that allow us to adjust the electrical power on each node so that we stay within a power budget, and ways to think about concurrency and millions and millions of lightweight threads.”

There are two dominant drivers pushing these worlds together. One is the cost savings. Labs and their funding bodies in the US and abroad can no longer afford to “pay twice” for the components and technology. Further, as Beckman points out, there are also very good technical reasons to enable both kinds of workloads and workflows on the same system. “We save time and improve capability by being able to do both large-data analysis and simulations simultaneously to solve a big scientific problem,” he says.

“This divergent ecosystem view is what we’re observing in BDEC and is what we believe will be changed in the future,” adds Beckman. “We’ll move to a converged software and hardware architecture that allows scientists to do both.”

To be clear here, what is required to align the two ecosystems, and it’s already underway, is the move from a razor thin operating system to a more fully-featured one. This is a cusp moment when increasingly high performance computing applications are wanting something more, says Beckman. For example, they want to run a background data compression at the same time as they run their application or they want to run some data analysis during application and do in-situ visualization during their application.

“Suddenly the application community is saying, we want an operating system that has important features and can create containers for our workflow components and can manage NVRAM in interesting ways because our new systems all have embedded NVRAM and can do interesting compression and data reduction because our bandwidth to I/O is less that we would like,” says Beckman.

“All of the sudden we are back in the situation where we need a robust high performance operating system that extends what you find [in a standard Linux distro] and provides special features for high performance computing. We’re back into the space where vendors and applications and the community all want to be able to support very rich applications and that’s exactly what the big data community needs as well.”

The logical question here is what do you trade if you have a feature that you don’t use? If you only require the operating system to hand over the memory, and the extra functionality is just sitting there, do you pay for that functionality even if your application doesn’t use it? There’s been a lot of research into this question, Beckman tells me, and most of it has shown that that cost is really quite small. “If an application chooses not to use these advanced features, the fact that the system carries support for it doesn’t really slow the application down much, if at all,” he affirms.

Docker and other container technologies are helping to usher in this new era. The overhead that held back HPC adoption of virtualization (and VM-style cloud computing) is virtually non-existent with the container approach, opening up a whole world of possibilities for the flexible use of systems beyond the minimalist’s bare metal. “What they provide,” says Beckman of these newer lightweight frameworks, “is this very rich programming environment, which makes applications more productive and makes it possible for people to string together very complex workflows.”

Beckman acknowledges the existence of what he says is “a pretty small community” of dissenters who continue to uphold the ideal of a pared-down OS and just want to run their one thing. He believes this viewpoint holds less sway as  science domains broadly become more intertwined.

Beckman points to battery storage as an example. In this one domain, there is chemistry at the quantum level happening in the battery; materials questions about how long the actual physical components – the cathode, the anode — can last and how they corrode; and the issue of having this battery in a car and what happens in the event of a crash or fire.

“These are all science questions across multiple scales, all the way from quantum, what’s happening in the chemistry of the battery, up to the collision of one car into another,” says Beckman, “So just solving one science problem where one community says all I want to do is quantum chemistry for my battery sort of misses the bigger picture. We actually have to be able to solve the big data problems. We have to solve simulations that do collision dynamics between cars; we have to solve material aging problems. So we need software stacks that are very rich and very feature-full to provide support for these communities. And when they don’t get that support, they go work on other things. They go design their own computer systems and software stacks.

“We need to understand that our science problems are part of larger whole that we have to solve. Bringing together more tools and more system software facilitates this.”

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!

ISC18’s Industrial Day Slate: Digital Twins, CFD for Automotive, HPC for SMEs

June 23, 2018

For enterprise IT strategists, this year’s Industrial Day (Tuesday, June 26) at ISC18 in Frankfurt will cover a range of topics – digital twins, AI and machine learning in automotive design, HPC for SME’s and deve Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Hot and What’s Not at ISC 2018?

June 22, 2018

As the calendar rolls around to late June we see the ISC conference, held in Frankfurt (June 24th-28th), heave into view. With some of the pre-show announcements already starting to roll out, what do we think some of the Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Servers in Orbit, HPE Apollos Make 4,500 Trips Around Earth

June 22, 2018

The International Space Station shines a little brighter in the night sky thanks to what amounts to an orbiting supercomputer lofted to the outpost last year as part of a year-long experiment to determine if high-end com Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Taking the AI Training Wheels Off: From PoC to Production

Even though it seems simple now, there were a lot of skills to master in learning to ride a bike. From balancing on two wheels, and steering in a straight line, to going around corners and stopping before running over the dog, it took lots of practice to master these skills. Read more…

HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards Turns 15

June 22, 2018

A hallmark of sustainability is this: If you are not serving a need effectively and efficiently you do not last. The HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program has stood the test of time. Each year, our read Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What’s Hot and What’s Not at ISC 2018?

June 22, 2018

As the calendar rolls around to late June we see the ISC conference, held in Frankfurt (June 24th-28th), heave into view. With some of the pre-show announcement Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Servers in Orbit, HPE Apollos Make 4,500 Trips Around Earth

June 22, 2018

The International Space Station shines a little brighter in the night sky thanks to what amounts to an orbiting supercomputer lofted to the outpost last year as Read more…

By George Leopold

HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards Turns 15

June 22, 2018

A hallmark of sustainability is this: If you are not serving a need effectively and efficiently you do not last. The HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice aw Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2018 Preview from @hpcnotes

June 21, 2018

Prepare for your social media feed to be saturated with #HPC, #ISC18, #Top500, etc. Prepare for your mainstream media to talk about supercomputers (in between t Read more…

By Andrew Jones

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

European HPC Summit Week and PRACEdays 2018: Slaying Dragons and SHAPEing Futures One SME at a Time

June 20, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened May 29, 2018. The conference was chair Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose p Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

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

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda 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

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Sympo Read more…

By Staff

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

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

Google I/O 2018: AI Everywhere; TPU 3.0 Delivers 100+ Petaflops but Requires Liquid Cooling

May 9, 2018

All things AI dominated discussion at yesterday’s opening of Google’s I/O 2018 developers meeting covering much of Google's near-term product roadmap. The e Read more…

By John Russell

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

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

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Charts Two-Dimensional Quantum Course

April 26, 2018

Quantum error correction, essential for achieving universal fault-tolerant quantum computation, is one of the main challenges of the quantum computing field and it’s top of mind for Google’s John Martinis. At a presentation last week at the HPC User Forum in Tucson, Martinis, one of the world's foremost experts in quantum computing, emphasized... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This