RFHPC123: SC16 Student Cluster Competition & Results

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team reviews the results from SC16 Student Cluster Competition. 

This year, the advent of clusters with the new Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs made a huge impact, nearly tripling the Linpack record for the competition.

The Student Cluster Competition returned for its 10th year at SC16, The competition which debuted at SC07 in Reno and has since been replicated in Europe, Asia and Africa, is a real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge in which teams of six undergraduates assemble a small cluster at SC16 and race to complete a real-world workload across a series of scientific applications, demonstrate knowledge of system architecture and application performance, and impress HPC industry judges. The students partner with vendors to design and build a cutting-edge cluster from commercially available components, not to exceed a 3120-watt power limit and work with application experts to tune and run the competition codes.

For the first-time ever, the team that won top honors also won the award for achieving highest performance for the Linpack benchmark application. The team “SwanGeese” is from the University of Science and Technology of China. In traditional Chinese culture, the rare Swan Goose stands for teamwork, perseverance and bravery. This is the university’s third appearance in the competition.

Also, an ACM SIGHPC Certificate of Appreciation is presented to the authors of a recent SC paper to be used for the SC16 Student Cluster Competition Reproducibility Initiative. The selected paper was “A Parallel Connectivity Algorithm for de Bruijn Graphs in Metagenomic Applications” by Patrick Flick, Chirag Jain, Tony Pan and Srinivas Aluru from Georgia Institute of Technology.

After that, we go round-robin for our Catch of the Week:

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

See our complete coverage of SC16, which takes place Nov. 13-18 in Salt Lake City.

RFHPC122: A Look at the New TOP500

Top500In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team reviews the latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list saw China and United States pacing each other for supercomputing supremacy. Both nations now claim 171 systems apiece in the latest rankings, accounting for two-thirds of the list. However, China has maintained its dominance at the top of the list with the same number 1 and 2 systems from six months ago: Sunway TaihuLight, at 93 petaflops, and Tianhe-2, at 34 petaflops. This latest edition of the TOP500 was announced Monday, November 14, at the SC16 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After US and China, Germany claims the most systems with 32, followed by Japan with 27, France with 20, and the UK with 17. A year ago the US was the clear leader with 200 systems, while China had 108, Japan had 37, Germany had 33, and both France and the UK had 18.

In addition to matching each other in system count in the latest rankings, China and the US are running neck and neck in aggregate Linpack performance. The US holds the narrowest of leads, with 33.9 percent of the total; China is second with 33.3 percent. The total performance of all 500 computers on the list is now 672 petaflops, a 60 percent increase from a year ago.

The top of the list did receive a mild shakeup with two new systems in the top ten.
The Cori supercomputer, a Cray XC40 system installed at Berkeley Lab’s National
Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), slipped into the number 5
slot with a Linpack rating of 14.0 petaflops. Right behind it at number 6 is the new
Oakforest-PACS supercomputer, a Fujitsu PRIMERGY CX1640 M1 cluster, which
recorded a Linpack mark of 13.6 petaflops. Oakforest-PACS is up and running at Japan’s Joint Center for Advanced High Performance Computing (JCAHPC). Both machines owe their computing prowess to the Intel “Knights Landing” Xeon Phi 7250, a 68-core processor that delivers 3 peak teraflops of performance. The addition of Cori and Oakforest-PACS pushed every system below them a couple of notches down, with the exception of Piz Daint, a Cray supercomputer installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). It maintained its spot at number 8 as a result of a massive 3.5 petaflop upgrade, courtesy of newly installed NVIDIA P100 Tesla GPUs.

SC16Piz Daint also has the honor of being the second most energy-efficient supercomputer in the TOP500, with a rating of 7.45 gigaflops/watt. It is topped by NVIDIA’s in-house DGX Saturn V system, the only other system on the list equipped with the new P100 GPUs. It is a 3.3-petaflop cluster of DGX-1 servers that delivers 8.18 gigaflops/watt. To offer some perspective here, the nominal goal for the first exascale systems is 50 gigaflops/watt.

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

See our complete coverage of SC16, which takes place Nov. 13-18 in Salt Lake City.

RFHPC121: SC16 Day-by-Day Event Preview

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team previews the ancillary events around SC16 in Salt Lake City.

Friday, Nov 11

  • HP-CAST (Friday-Saturday). The High Performance Consortium for Advanced Scientific and Technical (HP-CAST) computing users group works to increase the capabilities of Hewlett Packard Enterprise solutions for large-scale, scientific and technical computing. The company has recently completed its acquisition of SGI, so this meeting will be the first chance for customers to hear about the road ahead.

Saturday, Nov 12

    • Dell HPC Community meeting. The Dell HPC Community is a worldwide technical forum that fosters the exchange of ideas among researchers, computer scientists, technologists, and engineers and promotes the advancement of innovative, powerful HPC solutions. Dell customers, staff, and partners are invited to become members and to attend this exclusive workshop featuring insightful keynote presentations by HPC experts, as well as valuable technical sessions and discussions. This half-day event will take place on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 12.
    • Intel HPC Developer Conference (Saturday-Sunday). This one and a half-day event brings together architecture experts and HPC industry leaders to discuss, share and highlight the latest in supercomputing.

Sunday, Nov 13

  • SC16 starts Sunday with Tutorials and Workshops and runs all week until Friday, Nov 18.
  • Third Workshop on Accelerator Programming Using Directives (WACCPD). Held in conjunction with SC16, this workshop aims to solicit papers that explore innovative language features – their implementations, compilation & runtime scheduling techniques, performance optimization strategies, autotuning tools exploring the optimization space and so on.

Monday, Nov 14

  • International Workshop on Parallel Data Storage and Data Intensive Scalable Computing Systems (PDSW-DISCS’16). The objective of this one day joint workshop is to combine two overlapping communities and to better promote and stimulate researchers’ interactions to address some of the most critical challenges for scientific data storage, management, devices, and processing infrastructure for both traditional compute intensive simulations and data-intensive high performance computing solutions.
  • StartupHPC Conference. Kick-off your Salt Lake experience and SC16 week with the annual StartupHPC conference. Register early and secure your opportunity to engage fellow entrepreneurial explorers, executives and experts during this one day exclusive event packed with high quality content, insights, and interactions! Building on the success of last year’s event, StartupHPC-16 focuses on hot markets, case studies, and funding. Contributed talks combine with spirited discussions in this open forum, offering attendees a mix of rare and deeply personal experiences, professional best practices, and practical learnings.
  • International Workshop on Heterogeneous High-performance Reconfigurable Computing (H2RC’16). This workshop brings together HPC and heterogeneous-computing researchers to demonstrate and share experiences on how newly-available high-level programming models, including OpenCL, are already empowering HPC software developers to directly leverage FPGAs, and to identify future opportunities and needs for research in this area. 
  • DDN User Group. Join your HPC community colleagues and DDN executive and technical leadership to share insights and hear how other leading global organizations are assessing and leveraging technology to raise the bar on HPC innovations and best practices.
  • D-Wave Quantum Computing Seminar at SC16Over the past few years investment in quantum computing research has skyrocketed worldwide, as has interest in the potential of this revolutionary technology. D-Wave, the first quantum computing company, released its 1000+ qubit D-Wave 2X system last year, which has now been installed at NASA Ames, Los Alamos National Laboratory and USC/Lockheed Martin. Attend this seminar and learn about D-Wave’s newest system, with a 2000 qubit quantum processor. Learn more.
  • Seagate HPC User Forum at SC16. “We’re venturing well beyond legacy boundaries. Are you confused about the real future of HPC storage? Is it all flash like the hype suggests? Are reliable spinning disks still going to be relevant? Is there a better answer? Join us Monday, November 14 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Seagate’s 3rd annual HPC User Forum to get your questions answered and learn about the newest HPC direction and innovations firsthand from four industry leaders.”
  • Beowulf Bash at SC16, 9pm – 12am at the Discovery Gateway: Children’s Museum 444 100 South, Salt Lake City. The biggest party at SC16 takes place on Monday night 9pm after the opening gala. So here’s the deal: we are holding the 2016 Bash in a children’s museum. Not to worry, as in years past a great bunch of vendors will be providing food, entertainment, and adult beverages. The museum has simple, safe exhibits that should not be too difficult for you and your friends.

Tuesday, November 15

  • IDC Breakfast Briefing at SC16, 7:15am – 8:30am. Free for attendees, the event takes place 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. “Join IDC industry analysts as they present their expert opinions and analysis on the technical computing market and the future of high-performance computing.”
  • Women in HPC Celebration at SC16, 7:30pm – 9:00pm. The Women in HPC network is hosting a meetup celebration at SC16. The event will take place at Nov. 15 at 7:30pm – 9:00pm at Caffé Molise in Salt Lake City. “Join us to celebrate the growing community of women in the supercomputing community and the work of WHPC. This special networking evening will include drinks and an appetizer buffet. Hosted by EPCC in collaboration with Intel, Compute Canada and McMahon Consulting, the event is a great opportunity to celebrate the work done by WHPC and meet members, founders, advocates and supporters.”
  • Nimbix Party Lounge, 6pm – 10pm. Stanza Italian Bistro & Wine Bar. Nimbix is bringing together an international group of High Performance Computing (HPC) and Big Data enthusiasts including software developers, hardware OEM’s, users, industry analysts and more.

After our event roundup comes our predections for SC16 total attendance numbers:

  • Henry: 14,237
  • Shahin: 12,600
  • Dan: 11,100
  • Rich: 9,800

Then we each share our Catch of the Week:

  • Henry likes the story about Sunflower Labs, a company that will launch drones to photograph anyone who trespasses in your yard.
  • Shahin points us to a pair of European startups looking to do computation with light: Optalysis and LightOn.
  • Dan has an idea for an App that will allow you to track your progress on an escalator.
  • Rich puts in a plug for the Print ‘n Fly Guide to SC16 in Salt Lake City. Top Tip: Be sure to negotiate your taxi fares ahead of time!

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC120: Preview of the SC16 Student Cluster Competition

Student Cluster Competitors

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team previews the SC16 Student Cluster Competition.

The Student Cluster Competition was developed in 2007 to immerse undergraduate and high school students in high performance computing. Student teams design and build small clusters, with hardware and software vendor partners, learn designated scientific applications, apply optimization techniques for their chosen architectures, and compete in a non-stop, 48-hour challenge, at the SC conference, to complete a real-world scientific workload, while impressing conference attendees and interview judges with their HPC knowledge.

Dan gives us his impressions of the 14 teams competing this year. That’s a record number!

  • Friedrich-Alexander University, Germany
  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
  • Northeastern University / Auburn University, United States
  • Peking University, China
  • San Diego State University, United States
  • Team MGHPCC (Boston University, MIT, University of
    Massachusetts, Harvard University), United States
  • Technical University of Munich, Germany
  • Universidad EAFIT, Colombia
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, United States
  • University of Science and Technology of China, China
  • University of Texas at Austin / Texas State University, United States
  • University of Utah, United States

After that, we do a Round Robin with our Catch of the Week:

  • Shahin is anxiously awaiting the announcement of new Macbook Pro laptops from Apple.
  • Dan points us to a paper on deception and lying that has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology. As it turns out, only analysts get better with age.
  • Rich liked a story on insideHPC about Simulating Jellyfish Blooms in order to protect water inlets of coastal power plants.

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC119: Why the New OpenCAPI Interconnect is a Big Deal

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the new OpenCAPI interconnect standard.

Released today by the newly formed OpenCAPI Consortium, OpenCAPI provides an open, high-speed pathway for different types of technology – advanced memory, accelerators, networking and storage – to more tightly integrate their functions within servers. This data-centric approach to server design, which puts the compute power closer to the data, removes inefficiencies in traditional system architectures to help eliminate system bottlenecks and can significantly improve server performance.

After that, we do a Round Robin with our Catch of the Week:

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC118: What About Security for Augmented Reality

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the issue of security for Augmented Reality and IoT. Now that every device in our lives is getting connected to the Internet, how will be prevented from attackers? Henry points out that even our medical devices are not safe any more.

After that, we wrap things up in our Catch of the Week:

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC117: Calling for a Forever Data Format

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team discuss Henry Newman’s recent editorial calling for a self-descriptive data format that will stand the test of time. Henry contends that we seem headed for massive data loss unless we act.

In 20 years, much less thousands of years, how is anyone going to figure out what data is stored in each of these file formats? Of course, some of them are open source, but many are not. And even for open source, who is going to save the formats and information for a decade or more? I cannot even open some MS Office documents from the early 2000s, and that is less than two decades. The same can be said for many other data formats. There are self-describing data formats such as HDF (Hierarchical Data Format), which is about 30 years old, but outside of the HPC community, it is not widely used. There are other self-describing technologies in other communities, and maybe like HDF they could be used for virtually any data type. However, everyone wants what they have, not something new or different, and NIH is what usually happens in our industry.

Already we are seeing data formats that rely on antiquated hardware. Rich notes that data translation sites like Zamzar can help, and Shahin notes that the Living Computer Museum in Seattle has a mission to keep legacy computer systems running and available for people to see in action.

Rich points out that this is not just a problem for future scientific data. A recent article in the Economist describes how the number of genomics papers packaged with error-ridden spreadsheets is increasing by 15% a year, far above the 4% annual growth rate in the number of genomics papers published.

To wrap things up in our Catch of the Week, Rich points to talk by Larry Smarr on 50 Years of Supercomputing. And Henry can’t help bun ring the security klaxon now that Yahoo has disclosed a breach of half a billion user accounts.

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC116: New Technologies for HPC Power & Cooling

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at some interesting new developments in HPC Power & Cooling:

  • Solar-Powered Hikari Supercomputer at TACC Demonstrates HVDC Efficiencies. The HVDC technologies in the Hikari supercomputer at TACC could save 15 percent compared to conventional systems. “The 380 volt design reduces the number of power conversions when compared to AC voltage systems,” said James Stark, director of Engineering and Construction at the Electronic Environments Corporation (EEC), a Division of NTT FACILITIES. “What’s interesting about that,” Stark added, “is the computers themselves – the supercomputer, the blade servers, cooling units, and lighting – are really all designed to run on DC voltage. By supplying 380 volts DC to Hikari instead of having an AC supply with conversion steps, it just makes a lot more sense. That’s really the largest technical innovation.”
  • Aquila Launches Liquid Cooled OCP Server Platform. Using a fan-less design based on liquid cooling technology from Clustered Systems, the new Aquarius rack from Aquila can support up to 100 Kw. “Aquarius is designed from the ground up to meet reliability and the feature-specific demands of high performance and high density computing. Our design goal was to reduce the cost of cooling server resources to well under 5% of overall data center usage.”

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC115: How XSEDE 2.0 Funding Begs the Question of Exascale Application Development

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team discusses the recent news that Intel has sold its controlling stake in McAfee and that NSF has funded the next generation of XSEDE.

Plus, we continue our new regular feature: The Catch of the Week, where:
  • Dan can’t resist taking potshots at Apple, a company who’s products he’s never purchased.
  • Henry fondly remembers Star Trek, one of the only TV shows he’s seen in the last 50 years

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed

RFHPC114: Previewing the HPC User Forum & StartupHPC Events

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team previews the HPC User Forum & StartupHPC Events coming up in the Fall of 2016.

  • HPC User Forum, Sept. 6-8, Austin, Texas. The HPC User Forum was established in 1999 to promote the health of the global HPC industry and address issues of common concern to users (www.hpcuserforum.com). The organization has grown to 150 members. It is directed by a volunteer Steering Committee of users from government, industry and academia, and operated for the users by market analyst firm IDC. They hold two full-membership meetings a year in the United States, and also hold two meetings annually in international locations. International HPC User Forums are coming up in Beijing, China on Sept. 22 and Oxford in the UK Sept. 29-30
  • StartupHPC, Nov. 14, Salt Lake City, Utah. Today StartupHPC announced its third annual summit will be held in Salt Lake City at the Grand America Hotel. Held in conjunction with SC16, the conference features speakers with in-depth experience in entrepreneurship and the startup culture. The StartupHPC community caters to students and young entrepreneurs, corporations, venture capital firms, academia, government agencies, and support organizations.
Plus, we continue our new regular feature: The Catch of the Week.

Download the MP3 * Subscribe on iTunes * RSS Feed