NCSA Industry Conference Recap – Part Two

By Elizabeth Leake

November 26, 2019

Read part one of this conference recap here.

Industry Program Director Brendan McGinty welcomed guests to the second day of the annual National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Industry Conference, October 8-10, on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana (UIUC). One hundred seventy from 40 organizations attended the invitation-only event.

The program opened with the NCSA director’s address; William Gropp’s talk was titled, “Challenges and Opportunities in the Next Generation of HPC Systems.”

Gropp became NCSA’s fifth director in June 2017, and has served as NCSA’s chief scientist since 2015. He is co-principal investigator (PI) on the Blue Waters supercomputer, and PI of the National Science Foundation’s Midwest Big Data Hub. Gropp holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science (CS) and leads an active research program in the UIUC CS department. Prior to joining NCSA, Gropp held appointments at Yale University, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Chicago and the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies. He holds a Ph.D. in CS from Stanford University.Gropp opened his talk with a chart from a 2004 Scientific American magazine that illustrated microprocessor components between 1993 and where conventional wisdom of the time thought they would be in 2019. The chart plotted clock speed (gigahertz), transistors (millions) and gate length (nanometers). The graph was illustrating Moore’s Law; trends that, at the time, everyone believed would continue.

Moore’s Law predicted the number of transistors on a microchip would double every two years and the cost would be halved. But the expected trajectory began to flatten in 2005, which challenged Moore’s Law, and marked-end of architectural stability.

“Moore’s Law will fade; features will keep getting smaller, but it will take longer and longer to achieve each reduction in size,” said Gropp. “There won’t be a point (at least not for the next 10 years) when Moore’s Law will be dead (at the end of any improvement), but as it gets harder and harder to achieve the same factors of reduction in size, engineers and scientists will need to innovate other ways to continue to improve performance,” he added.

“This is when new architectures were needed to increase performance; this is when GPUs, highly-parallel, simpler cores and specialized elements entered the scene,” said Gropp. “Everyone has been pushing toward extreme-scale architectures that are becoming more heterogeneous,” he added. For example, Gropp noted that China’s next-generation systems present a diversity of accelerator choices. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Sierra system features 4320 nodes of IBM POWER9 CPUs, with NVIDIA Volta Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). NCSA’s Deep Learning System has 16 nodes of IBM POWER9, with 4 NVIDIA Volta GPUs, plus FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays).

Gropp noted that it isn’t only processors and platforms that have changed. Since 2005, storage prices have fallen. A proliferation of sensors created a new way to look at the world, but they have also presented challenges with the amount of data they create, and our networks must facilitate larger data transfers.

But the biggest problem, according to Gropp, was the end of software stability. Fortran has been around for more than 40 years; C and C++ about 25 years. “New architectures and big-data demands have seen the birth of many new programming languages that don’t seem to last as long,” he said, and added, “Note the rise of Python; Perl was the Python of its day.”

Among consequences is the lack of forward or backward compatibility. “Welcome to version hell!”

While there are advantages to rapid innovation, the disadvantages include difficulty in finding where versions and components intersect. “I consider this a failure of software engineering,” said Gropp.

The end of Dennard scaling made our algorithms imperfect; they no longer exploit the performance that’s possible. Dennard once ensured the future was predictable, “but that free ride is over,” he added.

What is NCSA doing to stay ahead of this problem?

“We’re building teams of complementary expertise,” said Gropp. Anchor projects, such as the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation, Center for Digital Agriculture and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), have drawn specialists with a wealth of skills and strengths. NCSA has a new software directorate that employs more than 30 developers with expertise in many program languages. This workforce is especially attractive to NCSA Industry partners who can subcontract skills needed for special projects (contracts range from .25 to 6 FTE’s and for six months up to years in length).

NCSA Center for AI Innovation

During the Center for Digital Agriculture kick-off and first day of the NCSA Industry conference, it was evident that the 40 organizations represented, including NCSA Industry partners and tech companies who sponsored the event, are either active or soon to be active with AI; and just about every sector was represented. Therefore, few were surprised to learn that NCSA is launching a new Center for AI Innovation. Co-founders include NCSA Industry Director Brendan McGinty, Research Scientist Eliu Huerta, and Senior Research Scientist Volodymyr Kindratenko. Focused on the needs of industry, research and scholarship, “the new center will serve as a single umbrella for all things AI,” said McGinty. He also mentioned that a special announcement would be made during SC19.

Rising to the demands of the communities they serve; the NCSA Center for AI has been two years in the making. Initially forming with an investment from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy (DoE) physics grants; each totaling $1.8 million, many more disciplines, domains and sectors are represented, including multi-messenger astrophysics, high-energy physics, medicine, agriculture, and financial services, to name a few. UIUC faculty affiliates from Agriculture, Electrical and Computing Engineering, Physics, the Beckman Institute, and Carle Clinic will foster an interdisciplinary scholastic AI experience, and they’re partnering with other universities. The advisory board has representation from national laboratories and industry.

SPIN participants. Photo courtesy by NCSA.

The center’s education and outreach initiative is led by Kindratenko, who has found through experience with NCSA’s Students Pushing Innovation program, or “SPIN,” that many undergraduate scholars who enter the program are already acquainted with machine and deep learning.

To test and strengthen their skills, an AI hackathon was sponsored by NVIDIA and co-organized by the Center for AI, Gravity Group, Innovative Systems Lab and NCSA Industry immediately prior to the Industry Conference. To prepare for the hackathon, students completed IBM tutorials that acquainted them with the POWER9 platform; workshops continue every Wednesday from 3-5:00 p.m. at NCSA. “Two days, Three problems, Five teams, Twenty participants, and one dream,” said Huerta.

AI Hackathon winners are encouraged to apply for internships with companies at UIUC’s Research Park in the spring where they can help tackle real-world problems for research and industry partners. “This hands-on experience at the undergraduate level is critically important if we hope to answer the call for an AI-savvy digital workforce,” said Kindratenko.

The balance of day two included a session on emerging technologies chaired by NCSA Technical Program Manager Dan LaPine. Representatives from four tech giants presented case studies where AI methodologies support research:

  • Thomas Henson (Dell Office of the CTO, Data Engineering Advocate) presented, “Scaling AI Initiatives from POC to Large Scale Production Deployments.”
  • Mark Fernandez (HPE, Americas HPC Tech Officer & SpaceBorne Computer Payload Developer) talked about the first HPC system to be deployed into outer space: “The Dawn of HPC and AI Above the Clouds.”
  • Roger Goff (DDN BDM & Senior Solutions Engineer): “Making the Best User of Flash for HPC with Lustre.”
  • Tom Gibbs (NVIDIA Director of Developer Relations) presented a talk titled, “The Convergence of HPC and AI for Grand Challenge Science Problems.”

Part one of this conference recap is featured in HPCwire. A summary of the co-located NCSA Center for Digital Agriculture Conference was recently featured in Datanami.

Photos by Leake and NCSA. 

About the Author

HPCwire Contributing Editor Elizabeth Leake is a consultant, correspondent and advocate who serves the global high performance computing (HPC) and data science industries. In 2012, she founded STEM-Trek, a global, grassroots nonprofit organization that supports workforce development opportunities for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholars from underserved regions and underrepresented groups.

As a program director, Leake has mentored hundreds of early-career professionals who are breaking cultural barriers in an effort to accelerate scientific and engineering discoveries. Her multinational programs have specific themes that resonate with global stakeholders, such as food security data science, blockchain for social good, cybersecurity/risk mitigation, and more. As a conference blogger and communicator, her work drew recognition when STEM-Trek received the 2016 and 2017 HPCwire Editors’ Choice Awards for Workforce Diversity Leadership.

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!

Focused on ‘Silicon TAM,’ Intel Puts Gary Patton, Former GlobalFoundries CTO, in Charge of Design Enablement

December 12, 2019

Change within Intel’s upper management – and to its company mission – has continued as a published report has disclosed that chip technology heavyweight Gary Patton, GlobalFoundries’ CTO and R&D SVP as well a Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Bits: Rigetti Debuts New Gates, D-Wave Cuts NEC Deal, AWS Jumps into the Quantum Pool

December 12, 2019

There’s been flurry of significant news in the quantum computing world. Yesterday, Rigetti introduced a new family of gates that reduces circuit depth required on some problems and D-Wave struck a deal with NEC to coll Read more…

By John Russell

How Formula 1 Used Cloud HPC to Build the Next Generation of Racing

December 12, 2019

Formula 1, Rob Smedley explained, is maybe the biggest racing spectacle in the world, with five hundred million fans tuning in for every race. Smedley, a chief engineer with Formula 1’s performance engineering and anal Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has been unveiled in upstate New York that will be used by IBM Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Developing a Digital Twin

December 11, 2019

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location to location. In such a world, there will also be a digital twin for each UAV in the fleet: a virtual model that will follow the UAV through its existence, evolving with time. Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

GPU Scheduling and Resource Accounting: The Key to an Efficient AI Data Center

[Connect with LSF users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community!]

GPUs are the new CPUs

GPUs have become a staple technology in modern HPC and AI data centers. Read more…

Supercomputers Help Predict Carbon Dioxide Levels

December 10, 2019

The Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – its lands, forests, jungles and so on – are crucial “sinks” for atmospheric carbon, holding nearly 30 percent of our annual CO2 emissions as they breathe in the carbon-rich Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Focused on ‘Silicon TAM,’ Intel Puts Gary Patton, Former GlobalFoundries CTO, in Charge of Design Enablement

December 12, 2019

Change within Intel’s upper management – and to its company mission – has continued as a published report has disclosed that chip technology heavyweight G Read more…

By Doug Black

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Developing a Digital Twin

December 11, 2019

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location to location. In such a world, there will also be a digital twin for each UAV in the fleet: a virtual model that will follow the UAV through its existence, evolving with time. Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum proces Read more…

By John Russell

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
CEJN
CJEN
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

Cerebras to Supply DOE with Wafer-Scale AI Supercomputing Technology

September 17, 2019

Cerebras Systems, which debuted its wafer-scale AI silicon at Hot Chips last month, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as part of a larger collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU 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