Friday, July 1, 2011

My Take from the International Supercomputing Conference June 2011 (ISC’11)

I had the pleasure to be at the recent ISC’11 conference in Germany. ISC’11 is one of my preferred HPC conferences. Not too big to be over crowded but big enough to capture all the new development from the vendors in the high-performance computing world. And who can say no to pork shank and beer??

So what did I see at ISC’11?

1. The new number one system on the top 500 supercomputers list – the Fujitsu K-computer with 8 Petaflop of performance. Very nice achievement taking into consideration some of the issues that Japan are facing. On the other hand, Sparc and Tufo interconnect? Seems more as the Earth Simulator version 2 – nice demonstration of capability, no much usage beyond that.

2. Xyratex announced and demonstrated their new ClusterStor™ 3000 storage solution. Good to see that Xyratex is going to be a player in the HPC storage market. We definitely need to have more solutions that can deliver storage in the speed of HPC. Was also nice to see how Whamcloud helps to make Lustre a more friendly solution.

3. Intel demonstration of the MIC microprocessor – not really that new, but as accelerators become more and more important, MIC can play a good role in moving HPC to the next phase. NVIDIA and AMD will play here as well of course.

4. Mellanox demonstrating the new FDR InfiniBand 56Gb/s interconnect solutions. The InfiniBand progress of time is ready impressive. I remember the 10Gb/s IB in 2002, 20Gb/s in 2005, 40Gb/s in 2008 and now 56Gb/s in 2011. There was a multi-vendor InfiniBand network demonstration on the show floor organized by the HPC Advisory Council. Impressive launch. From the other InfiniBand provider – QLogic, I did not see much. When I asked, I heard some mumbling of 56Gb/s is too fast, and that they will close the gap with the next generation InfiniBand once it will be out. Wait a second, I thought that HPC is all about faster, stronger and better. FDR is too fast? Ha? maybe we should rename HPC to LPC (low-performance….)? Seems that QLogic is in the dark these days…. Myricom had a booth at ISC as well, but with no much to show, and not much to offer to the HPC world, it was a waste of money for them to be at ISC.

5. AMD demonstrated the new 16-Core Opteron "Interlagos" CPUs for the first time. Having 16 cores per socket, and with for example 4 socket machine, you can have a nice 64-core server….  My next buy into my HPC center.

And not less important, the evening events were great, in particular the T-Platform party. Thanks for the food and Vodka!

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