HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

By Tiffany Trader

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 assets. A letter from the company with a listing of assets is included at the end of the article.

PathScale represents one of handful of compiler technologies that are designed for high performance computing, and it is one the last independent HPC compiler companies. In an interview with HPCwire, PathScale Chief Technology Officer and owner Christopher Bergström attributes the company’s financial insolvency to its heavy involvement in Intel alternative architectures.

“Unfortunately in recent years, we bet big on ARMv8 and the partner ecosystem and the hardware has been extremely disappointing,” said Bergström. “Once partners saw how low their hardware performed on HPC workloads they decided to pull back on their investment in HPC software.”

Due to confidentiality agreements, he’s limited to speaking in generalities but argues that the currently available ARMv8 processors deliver very weak performance for HPC workloads.

“ARM is possibly aware of this issue and as a result has introduced SVE (Scalable Vector Extensions),” Bergström told us. “Unfortunately, they focused more on the portability side of vectorization and the jury is still out if they can deliver competitive performance. SVE’s flexible design and freedom to change vector width on the fly will possibly impact the ability to write code tuned specifically for a target processor. In addition, design of the hardware architecture blocks software optimizations that are very common and potentially critical for HPC. And based on the publicly available roadmaps, the floating point to power ratio is not where it needs to be for HPC workloads in order to effectively compete against Intel or GPUs.”

Before coming to these conclusions, PathScale had a statement of work contract with Cavium to help support optimizing compilers for their ThunderX processors. When that funding was pulled, PathScale also lost their ability to gain and support customers for ARMv8. They looked for funders, and had conversations with stakeholders in the private and public sphere, but the money just wasn’t available.

“Show me a company in the HPC space wanting to invest,” said Bergström, “They’re not investing in compiler technology.”

ARM, which was scooped up by Japanese company SoftBank in September 2016 for $31 billion, may be the exception, but according to Bergström the PathScale technology, while it significantly leverages LLVM, doesn’t perfectly align with what they need.

Bergström brokered the deal with Cray that resurrected PathScale from the ashes of SiCortex in 2009 (more on this below) and he’s proud of what he and his team have accomplished over the last seven years. “We love compilers, we love the technology. We want to continue developing this stuff. The team is rock solid, we’re like family. We live eat and breathe compilers, but we’re not on a sustainable business path and we need a bailout or help refocusing. We need people who understand that these kind of technologies add value and LLVM by itself isn’t a panacea.”

Addison Snell, CEO of HPC analyst firm Intersect360 Research, shared some additional perspective on the market dynamics at play for independent tools vendors. “In the Beowulf era, clusters were all mostly the same, so what little differentiation there was came from things like development environments and job management software,” he said. “Independent middleware companies of all types flourished. Now we’re trending back toward an era of architectural specialization. Users are shopping for architectures more than they’re shopping for which compiler to use for a given architecture, and acquisitions have locked up some of the previously dominant players. Vendors’ solutions will have their own integrated stacks. Free open-source versions might still exist, but there will be less room for independent middleware players.”

PathScale has a winding history that dates back to 2001 with the founding of Key Research by Lawrence Livermore alum Tom McWilliams. The company was riding the commodity cluster wave, developing clustered Linux server solutions based on a low-cost 64-bit design. In 2003, contemporaneous with the rising popularity of AMD Opteron processors, Key Research rebranded as PathScale and expanded its product line to include high-performance computing adapters and 64-bit compilers.

PathScale would then pass through a number of corporate hands. In 2006, QLogic acquired PathScale, primarily to gain access to its InfiniBand interconnect technology. The following year, the compiler assets were sold to SiCortex, which sought a solution for its MIPS-based HPC systems.

When SiCortex closed its doors in 2009, Cray bought the PathScale assets and revived the company. Under an arrangement struck with Cray, PathScale would go forward as an independent technology group with an option to buy. In March 2012, PathScale CTO Christopher Bergström acquired all assets and became the sole owner of PathScale Inc.

The PathScale toolchain currently generates code for the latest Intel processors, AMD64, AMD GPUs, Power8, ARMv8, and NVIDIA GPUs in combination with both Power8 and x86.

In a message to the community, Pathscale writes:

We are evaluating all options to overcome this difficult time, including refocusing to provide training and code porting services instead of purely offering compiler licenses and optimization services. Our team deeply understands parallel programming and whether you have crazy C++ or ancient Fortran, we can likely help get it running on GPUs (NVIDIA or AMD) or vectorization targets (like Xeon Phi).

All PathScale engineers would love to continue to work on the compiler as an independent company, but we need the community to help us. We need people who believe in our technical roadmap. We need people who understand the future exascale computing software stack will likely be complex, but that complexity and advanced optimizations will make it easier for end users. At the same time we must be realistic and without immediate assistance start accepting any reasonable offer on the assets as a whole or piece by piece.

Our assets include:

  • PathScale website, trademarks and branding

  • C, C++ and Fortran compilers

  • Complete GPGPU and many-core runtime which supports OMP4 and OpenACC and is portable across multiple architectures (NVIDIA GPU, ARMv8, Power8+NVIDIA and AMD GPU)

  • Significant modifications to CLANG and LLVM to enable support for OpenACC and OpenMP and parallel programming models.

  • Complete engineering team with expertise working on CLANG and LLVM and MIPSPro.

  • Advertising credits with popular websites ($30,000)

A purchase or funding from crowdsourcing or other community event will keep a highly optimizing OpenMP and OpenACC C/C++ and Fortran compiler toolchain plus experienced development team in operation. Succinctly, PathScale preserves architectural diversity and opens the door for competition with a performant compiler for interesting architectures with OpenMP and OpenACC parallelization.

If interested please contact [email protected].


Editor’s note: HPCwire has reached out to Cavium and ARM and we will update the article with any responses we receive.

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!

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its next-generation IPU platform: the IPU-Machine M2000. With the n Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security. This has been the mai Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

There’s No Storage Like ATGC: Breakthrough Helps to Store ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in DNA

July 15, 2020

Even as storage density reaches new heights, many researchers have their eyes set on a paradigm shift in high-density information storage: storing data in the four nucleotides (A, T, G and C) that constitute DNA, a metho Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle forward demonstrating an event-driven, visual-tactile perce Read more…

By John Russell

What’s New in HPC Research: Volcanoes, Mobile Games, Proteins & More

July 14, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

INEOS TEAM UK Accelerates Boat Design for America’s Cup Using HPC on AWS

The America’s Cup Dream

The 36th America’s Cup race will be decided in Auckland, New Zealand in 2021. Like all the teams, INEOS TEAM UK will compete in a boat whose design will have followed guidelines set by race organizers to ensure the crew’s sailing skills are fully tested. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and increase the vehicle’s speed and efficiency. These fluid dyn Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its nex Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic c Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle Read more…

By John Russell

Max Planck Society Begins Installation of Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer from Lenovo

July 9, 2020

Lenovo announced today that it is supplying a new high performance computer to the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's premier research organizations. Comprise Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

President’s Council Targets AI, Quantum, STEM; Recommends Spending Growth

July 9, 2020

Last week the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met (webinar) to review policy recommendations around three sub-committee reports: Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

In this exclusive interview for HPCwire – sadly not face to face – Steve Conway, senior advisor for Hyperion Research, talks with Dr.-Ing Bastian Koller about the state of HPC and its collaboration with Industry in Europe. Koller is a familiar figure in HPC. He is the managing director at High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) and also serves... Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

John Martinis Reportedly Leaves Google Quantum Effort

April 21, 2020

John Martinis, who led Google’s quantum computing effort since establishing its quantum hardware group in 2014, has left Google after being moved into an advi Read more…

By John Russell

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