RFHPC58: Does Linux Want to be More like the Mainframe?

In this episode, the Radio Free HPC teams looks at Henry Newman’s recent straw proposal for better resource management for Linux in HPC. His Enterprise Storage Forum column on this topic got Slashdotted recently, and the question remains: does Linux want to be more like the mainframe? Rich and Dan take him to task to learn more.

With next-generation technology like non-volatile memories and PCIe SSDs, there are going to be more resources in addition to the CPU that need to be scheduled to make sure everything fits in memory and does not overflow. I think the time has come for Linux – and likely other operating systems – to develop a more robust framework that can address the needs of future hardware and meet the requirements for scheduling resources. This framework is not going to be easy to develop, but it is needed by everything from databases and MapReduce to simple web queries.”

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RFHPC57: ISC’14 Wrapup Show

In this episode, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the highlights from the recent ISC’14 conference in Leipzig, Germany.

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RFHPC55: Summer Tech Reading

In this episode, the Radio Free HPC team looks at a couple of techie books for Summer reading.

  • Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets.
  • Daemon. When a designer of computer games dies, he leaves behind a program that unravels the Internet’s interconnected world. It corrupts, kills, and runs independent of human control. It’s up to Detective Peter Sebeck to wrest the world from the malevolent virtual enemy before its ultimate purpose is realized: to dismantle society and bring about a new world order.

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RFHPC54: A Preview of the ISC’14 Student Cluster Challenge

In this episode, Rich and Dan preview the Student Cluster Competition at ISC’14 in Leipzig.

The Teams:

The third HPCAC-ISC Student Cluster Competition, featured at ISC’14, is an opportunity to showcase student expertise in a friendly yet spirited competition. The competition will feature small teams that compete to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of state-of- the-art high-performance cluster hardware and software. In a real-time challenge, teams of six undergraduate and/or high school students will build a small cluster of their own design on the ISC exhibit floor and race to demonstrate the greatest performance across a series of benchmarks and applications. The students will have a unique opportunity to learn, experience and demonstrate how high-performance computing influence our world and day-to-day learning. Held in collaboration of the HPC Advisory Council and ISC, the Student Cluster Competition is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high performance computing world and community.

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RFHPC53: Google Ordered to Hit the History Erase Button

In this episode, the Radio Free HPC team looks at a grab bag of technical news items for the week of May 11, 2014:

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RFHPC52: Seven Myths of SSD vs. HDD Pricing

In this episode, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the Seven Myths of SSD vs. HDD Pricing, one of Henry’s recent Slashdotted features at Enterprise Storage Forum.

In a nutshell, Henry thinks that the notion of SSDs replacing spinning disks in the datacenter is built on several of flawed assumptions regarding flash storage.

  • First, some assume that the price of MLC NAND flash will continue to decrease at a rapid and predictable rate that will make it competitive with HDDs for bandwidth, and nearly for capacity, by 2014 or 2015. This downward trend, it is assumed, will make flash a viable alternative for large storage and to act as a memory or “buffer” to improve performance.
  • Second, there is a general assumption that prices for bandwidth ($/GB/s) for SSDs is much lower than for HDDs, and that enterprises will measure costs in these terms instead of capacity.
  • Third, there is no distinction made between flash in general, such as consumer SSDs, and enterprise storage SSDs. It is assumed that MLC NAND will not only reduce in price ($/GB) but also that it will increase in density and larger capacity drives will be developed.
  • Fourth, it is assumed that the quality of MLC NAND will either remain constant or increase as prices decrease and densities increase, allowing it to improve not only performance, but also reliability and power consumption of the systems it is used in.
  • Fifth, it is assumed that power consumption for SSDs is, or will shortly be, significantly lower than that of HDDs overall, on a per GB basis and on a per GB/s basis.
  • Sixth, they assume disk performance will grow at a constant rate of about 20 percent per generation and not improve.
  • Seventh, they assume file system data layout will not improve to allow better disk utilization.

According to Henry, most of these assumptions were made in early 2012. So far they have turned out to be partially true at best and wrong at worst. A big fan of the partially true, Dan pushes back as a matter of principle. Rich, on the other hand, has heard his share of SSD hype and thinks we need need to look at the data and see what it has to say.

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RFHPC 51: The 50th Anniversary of the Mainframe

In this episode, Dan and Henry wax poetically on the 50th Anniversary of the Mainframe. Dan flew across the country to attend the festivities, and Henry sounds a bit jealous. Rich has no idea why anyone would even cross town for such a thing, so he gets taken to the woodshed on this one.

Play Quiz: IBM S360 Mainframe Computer History now!

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