Features

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

Aug 23, 2016 |

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Their do-it-yourself, McGyver-like efforts were motivated by a frustration with the pricing, availability and maturity of then existing massively parallel processors, e.g., nCube, Thinking Machines, Convex and Cray. Read more…

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

Aug 22, 2016 | ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

Aug 18, 2016 | At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

Why Cross-Accelerator Performance Profiling is a Challenge

Aug 17, 2016 |

High performance computing (HPC) systems are comprised of multiple compute nodes interconnected by a network. Previously these nodes were composed solely of multi-core processors, but nowadays they also include many-core processors, which are called accelerators. Although accelerators provide higher levels of parallelism, their inclusion in HPC systems results in more complex system designs and increases the difficulty of quantifying the runtime behavior of applications that employ them. Read more…

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

Aug 15, 2016 |

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Its strengths – like the human brain it attempts to mimic – are pattern recognition (space and time) and inference reasoning. Advocates say it will also be possible to compute at much lower power than current paradigms. At ISC this year Karlheinz Meier, a physicist-turned-neuromorphic computing pioneer and a leader of the European Human Brain Project (HBP), gave an overview that served as both an update and primer. Read more…

HPE Gobbles SGI for Larger Slice of $11B HPC Pie

Aug 11, 2016 | Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced today that it will acquire rival HPC server maker SGI for $7.75 per share, or about $275 million, inclusive of cash and debt. The deal 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. Bringing SGI into its fold bolsters HPE's high-performance computing and data analytics capabilities and expands its position... Read more…

Nanotech Grand Challenge & Federal Vision for Future Computing

Aug 8, 2016 | What will computing look like in the post Moore’s Law era? There’s no shortage of ideas. A new federal white paper – A Federal Vision for Future Computing: A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge – tackles the ‘what’s next’ question and spells out seven specific research and development priorities and identifies the federal entities responsible. Read more…

Cray Revises FY16 Forecast, Citing Chip Delays, Market Slowdown, Smoke

Aug 4, 2016 |

Cray’s annual revenue projections took a hit on Tuesday as processor delays, market uncertainties, and a recent “smoke event” lead the supercomputing company to reduce its FY16 guidance by $175 million. Cray now expects total yearly revenue to be in the $650 million range, down from its previous estimate of $825 million. In 2015, the company had a banner year: booking $724.7 million up from $561.6 million in 2014. Read more…

IBM Phase Change Device Shows Promise for Emerging AI Apps

Aug 3, 2016 |

IBM Research today announced a significant advance in phase-change memristive technology – based on chalcogenide-based phase-change materials – that IBM says has the potential to achieve much higher neuronal circuit densities and lower power in neuromorphic computing. Also, for the first time, researchers demonstrated randomly spiking neurons based on the technology and were able to detect “temporal correlations in parallel data streams and in sub-Nyquist representation of high-bandwidth signals.”

The announcement coincided with the publishing of a paper, Stochastic phase-changing neurons, in Nature Nanotechnology. Read more…

MPI Is Not Perfect … Yet

Aug 3, 2016 | The Message Passing Interface (MPI) is the standard definition of a communication API that has underpinned traditional HPC for decades. The message passing programming represents distributed-memory hardware architectures using processes that send messages to each other. When first standardised in 1993-4, MPI was a major step forward from the many proprietary, system-dependent, and semantically different message-passing libraries that came before it. Read more…