Q&A with Google’s Bill Magro, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

By HPCwire Editorial Team

June 11, 2021

Last Fall Bill Magro joined Google as CTO of HPC, a newly created position, after two decades at Intel, where he was responsible for the company’s HPC strategy. This interview was conducted by email at the beginning of April.

Hi Bill, congratulations on being named a 2021 HPCwire Person to Watch! You joined Google last year to lead their HPC strategy. Please give a brief overview of your role and what you’ve been working on.

Since joining, I’ve spent a fair amount of time simply discovering and learning. Google is a unique company, and I wanted to take the time to get to know its diverse products, technologies, and people. I’ve of course only begun to scratch the surface, but I now feel better equipped to understand the key challenges HPC users face with cloud and the opportunity that Google Cloud has to better serve the HPC community.

An important part of my role is to help drive Google Cloud’s HPC strategy and customer success, and I’m lucky to work with teams inside and beyond Google. I work closely with our product and engineering teams to ensure we have the right roadmap to address existing and emerging HPC use cases. I also spend time bringing HPC user perspective and requirements into the broader Google Cloud product portfolio. I collaborate with our partnership teams, to forge and deepen partnerships within the HPC ecosystem. And, of course, I spend a lot of time with customers, sharing our HPC vision and incorporating their feedback into our plans.

In the last few years, the tier one cloud providers have stepped up their adoption of HPC technologies (and talent!). Why is HPC important to Google, and what is Google Cloud’s differentiation as a provider of HPC in the cloud?

HPC’s impact in tackling the world’s most challenging problems is undeniable, yet it still remains available to relatively few. Google Cloud hopes to address that and bring the power of HPC to everyone via a simple, compatible, and open Cloud. We are focused on both the needs of today’s HPC workloads and on opening new horizons, via powerful Cloud capabilities, such as AI.

To meet the unique needs of HPC workloads, Google Cloud offers several specific machine types, such as compute-optimized instances, which have fixed virtual-to-physical core mapping and OS-visible NUMA architecture, critical to many HPC workloads. We also offer machine types tailored for memory-intensive HPC workloads and GPU-accelerated workloads. We have improved MPI scalability through tuned MPI libraries, HPC-optimized machine images, available 100 Gbps networking, and new placement policies that co-locate compute instances in your application or workload or a job.

Beyond infrastructure, we are making many open source contributions and forming key partnerships in the HPC ecosystem. Our goal is to simplify the deployment of compatible environments on Google Cloud, enabling hybrid HPC environments where applications and workloads run unmodified. We have a number of enhancements planned to make HPC even easier, faster, and more affordable.

It’s notable that Google Cloud is built on the same infrastructure and technologies that power Google’s globally available services, used by 1 billion+ users every day . The extreme demands of our services have driven innovations in scalability, availability, networking, and security that are now available to HPC users worldwide. Google’s private network is among the best, providing superior quality of service, end-to-end encryption, and low latency that enables teams to effectively and confidently collaborate around the world.

And, of course, Google Cloud is helping bring the power of AI to the HPC community.

How do you see the relationship between HPC and AI, both broadly and more specifically at Google?

I think it’s well understood that much of AI can be considered an HPC workload, in that it benefits from high-performance infrastructure. At the same time, AI is a powerful new tool for the HPC community, with scientists, engineers, and others seeking ways to apply AI to gain deeper insight into their HPC simulations, improve their productivity, and even directly accelerate simulations.

Google pioneered the popular TensorFlow machine-learning framework and has broad strengths in AI and analytics. We make these capabilities available, along with highly-tuned infrastructure, to HPC users via Google Cloud. We often hear that HPC users and even HPC centers don’t have a need for round-the-clock AI training. As such, specialized on-premise AI hardware can often lie underutilized. The cloud provides an ideal environment to implement HPC and AI, since the resources can be tailored to the workload, adjusting dynamically as the workflow progresses. With inexpensive cloud archival storage and automated lifecycle management, HPC users no longer face the difficult decision to discard large data sets that might yield future insights.

What new/emerging technologies are you most closely tracking? What trends and/or technologies in high-performance computing (and related fields, such as AI) do you see as particularly relevant for the next five years?

I was actually trained in quantum physics, so I have a keen interest in the fascinating and rapidly-advancing field of quantum computing. While it will likely be many years before the full power of quantum computing is realized, it is interesting to watch the near-term applications being developed. Now is also a good time to consider how quantum computers will be deployed and accessed. Much like supercomputers, I see quantum computers as specialized resources, available primarily through shared HPC centers or the public cloud.

Nearer term, I am watching the rapid advances in silicon packaging and interconnect technology. Just as these advances have allowed the integration of high-bandwidth DRAM on CPUs, I see the potential for new product classes that combine the strengths of CPUs, data-parallel accelerators, and networking. These could drive significant advances in both programmability and performance for HPC.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit cloud is an obvious and major trend on my mind. I see a future where the line between workstation and supercomputer disappears, with compute seamlessly scaling to address the problem at hand. We have the exciting opportunity to bring the power of HPC to a whole new class of users, propelling their productivity to new heights.

Outside the professional sphere, what activities, hobbies or travel destinations do you enjoy in your free time?

Outside of work, I enjoy skiing with friends, woodworking, and traveling with my wife, Lisa. We plan to visit Spain, Portugal, and France as soon as it’s safe.

Magro is one of 14 HPCwire People to Watch for 2021. You can read the interviews with the other honorees at this link.

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!

Verifying the Universe with Exascale Computers

July 30, 2021

The ExaSky project, one of the critical Earth and Space Science applications being solved by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), is preparing to use the nation’s forthcoming exas Read more…

What’s After Exascale? The Internet of Workflows Says HPE’s Nicolas Dubé

July 29, 2021

With the race to exascale computing in its final leg, it’s natural to wonder what the Post Exascale Era will look like. Nicolas Dubé, VP and chief technologist for HPE’s HPC business unit, agrees and shared his vision at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe 2021 held last week. The next big thing, he told the virtual audience at SFE21, is something that will connect HPC and (broadly) all of IT – into what Dubé calls The Internet of Workflows. Read more…

How UK Scientists Developed Transformative, HPC-Powered Coronavirus Sequencing System

July 29, 2021

In November 2020, the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) won the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration for its CLIMB-COVID sequencing project. Launched in March 2020, CLIMB-COVID has now resulted in the sequencing of over 675,000 coronavirus genomes – an increasingly critical task as variants like Delta threaten the tenuous prospect of a return to normalcy in much of the world. Read more…

KAUST Leverages Mixed Precision for Geospatial Data

July 28, 2021

For many computationally intensive tasks, exacting precision is not necessary for every step of the entire task to obtain a suitably precise result. The alternative is mixed-precision computing: using high precision wher Read more…

Oak Ridge Supercomputer Enables Next-Gen Jet Turbine Research

July 27, 2021

Air travel is notoriously carbon-inefficient, with many airlines going as far as to offer purchasable carbon offsets to ease the guilt over large-footprint travel. But even over just the last decade, major aircraft model Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Data compression with increased performance and lower costs

Many customers associate a performance cost with data compression, but that’s not the case with Amazon FSx for Lustre. With FSx for Lustre, data compression reduces storage costs and increases aggregate file system throughput. Read more…

IBM and University of Tokyo Roll Out Quantum System One in Japan

July 27, 2021

IBM and the University of Tokyo today unveiled an IBM Quantum System One as part of the IBM-Japan quantum program announced in 2019. The system is the second IBM Quantum System One assembled outside the U.S. and follows Read more…

What’s After Exascale? The Internet of Workflows Says HPE’s Nicolas Dubé

July 29, 2021

With the race to exascale computing in its final leg, it’s natural to wonder what the Post Exascale Era will look like. Nicolas Dubé, VP and chief technologist for HPE’s HPC business unit, agrees and shared his vision at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe 2021 held last week. The next big thing, he told the virtual audience at SFE21, is something that will connect HPC and (broadly) all of IT – into what Dubé calls The Internet of Workflows. Read more…

How UK Scientists Developed Transformative, HPC-Powered Coronavirus Sequencing System

July 29, 2021

In November 2020, the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) won the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration for its CLIMB-COVID sequencing project. Launched in March 2020, CLIMB-COVID has now resulted in the sequencing of over 675,000 coronavirus genomes – an increasingly critical task as variants like Delta threaten the tenuous prospect of a return to normalcy in much of the world. Read more…

IBM and University of Tokyo Roll Out Quantum System One in Japan

July 27, 2021

IBM and the University of Tokyo today unveiled an IBM Quantum System One as part of the IBM-Japan quantum program announced in 2019. The system is the second IB Read more…

Intel Unveils New Node Names; Sapphire Rapids Is Now an ‘Intel 7’ CPU

July 27, 2021

What's a preeminent chip company to do when its process node technology lags the competition by (roughly) one generation, but outmoded naming conventions make it seem like it's two nodes behind? For Intel, the response was to change how it refers to its nodes with the aim of better reflecting its positioning within the leadership semiconductor manufacturing space. Intel revealed its new node nomenclature, and... Read more…

Will Approximation Drive Post-Moore’s Law HPC Gains?

July 26, 2021

“Hardware-based improvements are going to get more and more difficult,” said Neil Thompson, an innovation scholar at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). “I think that’s something that this crowd will probably, actually, be already familiar with.” Thompson, speaking... Read more…

With New Owner and New Roadmap, an Independent Omni-Path Is Staging a Comeback

July 23, 2021

Put on a shelf by Intel in 2019, Omni-Path faced a uncertain future, but under new custodian Cornelis Networks, OmniPath is looking to make a comeback as an independent high-performance interconnect solution. A "significant refresh" – called Omni-Path Express – is coming later this year according to the company. Cornelis Networks formed last September as a spinout of Intel's Omni-Path division. Read more…

Chameleon’s HPC Testbed Sharpens Its Edge, Presses ‘Replay’

July 22, 2021

“One way of saying what I do for a living is to say that I develop scientific instruments,” said Kate Keahey, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago a Read more…

Summer Reading: “High-Performance Computing Is at an Inflection Point”

July 21, 2021

At last month’s 11th International Symposium on Highly Efficient Accelerators and Reconfigurable Technologies (HEART), a group of researchers led by Martin Schulz of the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (Munich) presented a “position paper” in which they argue HPC architectural landscape... Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Berkeley Lab Debuts Perlmutter, World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

May 27, 2021

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held virtually at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) today marked the official launch of Perlmutter – aka NERSC-9 – the GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE in partnership with Nvidia and AMD. Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer called Dojo to process truly vast amounts of video data. It’s a beast! … A truly useful exaflop at de facto FP32.” Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months after Red Hat deprecated its support for the widely popular, free CentOS server operating system. The Rocky Linux development effort... Read more…

Iran Gains HPC Capabilities with Launch of ‘Simorgh’ Supercomputer

May 18, 2021

Iran is said to be developing domestic supercomputing technology to advance the processing of scientific, economic, political and military data, and to strengthen the nation’s position in the age of AI and big data. On Sunday, Iran unveiled the Simorgh supercomputer, which will deliver.... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

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…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

Q&A with Jim Keller, CTO of Tenstorrent, and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

April 22, 2021

As part of our HPCwire Person to Watch series, we are happy to present our interview with Jim Keller, president and chief technology officer of Tenstorrent. One of the top chip architects of our time, Keller has had an impactful career. Read more…

AMD-Xilinx Deal Gains UK, EU Approvals — China’s Decision Still Pending

July 1, 2021

AMD’s planned acquisition of FPGA maker Xilinx is now in the hands of Chinese regulators after needed antitrust approvals for the $35 billion deal were receiv Read more…

Senate Debate on Bill to Remake NSF – the Endless Frontier Act – Begins

May 18, 2021

The U.S. Senate today opened floor debate on the Endless Frontier Act which seeks to remake and expand the National Science Foundation by creating a technology Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire