HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

By John Russell

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (HANA), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC.

Few details of HPE plans for SGI (product roadmap, etc.) are available. At SC16 HPE was busy getting at least one message out – it is delighted for the new resources and high-end HPC headroom provided by SGI. “It’s a strategic move on our part to bolster our position in the HPC market as well as in the big data and mission critical systems spaces. [SGI has] lots of technologies across high performance data analytics (HPDA) and real time transaction processing in addition to HPC especially at the very high-end,” said Vineeth Ram, VP, HPC, Big Data & IoT Segment, HPE Servers, during a briefing at SC.

There’s still plenty to sort out. One issue that may prove troublesome is SGI’s preexisting reseller arrangements with Dell EMC, now a direct competitor, and Cisco, for the SGI’s UV Hanna machines. Some staff rightsizing may also be necessary. Yet on paper what’s most eye-catching is the deal’s complementary rather than overlapping quality.

Vineeth Ram, HPE
Vineeth Ram, HPE

More details will be provided in the opening half of 2017, said Ram. Job one, perhaps predictably, is connecting the two sales teams and reassuring customers, said Ram, “If you think about product roadmap and [what] our strategy is, we will continue investing in all the capabilities and are committed to supporting our existing offerings across our portfolios. We want to make sure customers investments are protected, we want to make sure we take that into account as we define the roadmaps.”

The deal itself (see HPCwire article, HPE Gobbles SGI for Larger Slice of $11B HPC Pie) was for about $275M and ends the seven-year reprieve that kept the SGI banner flying after Rackable Systems purchased the bankrupt Silicon Graphics Inc. for $25 million in 2009 and assumed the SGI brand. There was plenty to covet for HPE. Ram noted, “HPE had consciously made our strategy more of a mid-end approach and then start making a foray into the higher end. SGI’s history has been very much at the high end.”

When the acquisition formally closed three weeks ago, SGI became part of HPE’s infrastructure group, headed by Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager. It’s noteworthy that Bill Mannel, a long-time SGI exec, moved to HP roughly a year ahead of the HP split-up, and is now vice president and GM of High-Performance Computing and Big Data for HPE. He should know the SGI organization and portfolio as well as anyone and will likely play a role in guiding incorporation of SGI into the HPE fold.

idc-hpe-marketshare-sc16In its annual HPC market update at SC, IDC still pegged HPE as the market share leader in HPC servers by a nearly 2x advantage over Dell EMC (see IDC chart taken from its SC16 Update and read HPCwire article, IDC: AI, HPDA Driving HPC into High Growth Markets, for more); Dell EMC disputes that leadership assertion suggesting that now its combined revenues with EMC push it to top. Bragging rights aside, HPE was chasing more than a revenue bump and new products, said Ram. SGI’s go-to-market strategy, sales channels, and vertical segment (industry and geography) expertise were at least as important.

Here are four (of many) important benefits SGI brings according to Ram:

  • Verticals. SGI is particularly strong in life sciences, government, climate simulation, and manufacturing, for example, which all represent HPE opportunities. “Even in spaces like manufacturing, where we have been playing, I think we have been playing at the slightly lower end and SGI has come in at the higher end,” said Ram. SGI has built up tremendous domain expertise in these areas as well, he said.
  • Services. A fair amount of SGI business is created by its services and integration capabilities – a departure from HPE’s somewhat more product-led strategy. Ram noted SGI’s extensive end-to-end approach spans everything from the hardware to software stacks and applications. It’s not the HPE doesn’t have these capabilities, he said, but it is true SGI leverages and leads with them.
  • Japan. Cracking the Japanese market is historically difficult. Reliance on Japanese manufacturers is high. Contrarily, SGI is one of few U.S.-based computer companies that have fared well there, to a significant degree leveraging deep systems integration capabilities there, said Ram.
  • U.S. Manufacturing. This is no doubt an important element of SGI’s strength in selling to the U.S. government, and perhaps likely to become more important under the new Administration and if the National Strategic Computing Initiative gathers steam.

Like virtually all HPC server suppliers, HPE has been singing the ‘purpose-built’ chorus and the SGI acquisition doesn’t change that at all. It does elevate the target landscape HPE can attack. “They have domain expertise, deep vertical expertise, and solutions folks who can actually bring their super computer capability and drive it across the enterprise,” said RAM.

SGI UV croppedOne of the more interesting aspects to the acquisitions to watch will be HPE’s highest-end strategy. HP/HPE has for some time touted its leadership on the Top500 in terms of number of machines placed; that said, none of the top ten, for example, are HP/HPE systems. Mannel in an earlier interview and Ram at SC both emphasized HPE’s determination to penetrate the top end more effectively.

SGI technology should help this aspiration. For example an SGI ICE-X machine at energy giant Total was eleventh on the June 2016 Top500 (~5 Pflops) and dropped to 16 on the most recent list. Another SGI machine (SGI ICE XA, Cheyenne at the National Center for Atmospheric Research was 20th on the most recent list and a third SGI machine was 27th.

Ram calls the addition of SGI expertise exciting and said HPE was “absolutely” planning to play in the big sandbox including competing in big government procurement cycles leading towards exascale.

“I can say we are going to engage in bigger projects and longer term development with some of the uniqueness that we are bringing together. You will see us make some public statements early next year to talk about some of the kinds of exascale capabilities that we are driving, so we are definitely committed to investing and being part of the whole exascale evolution,” said Ram, hinting that HPE was already engaged in government projects but couldn’t able to elaborate until later in 2017.

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!

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is built to run artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and, as Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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…

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

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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