RFHPC182: Diverging Chip Architectures in the Wake of Spectre and Meltdown

Paul Kocher is a Security Technology Advisor at Rambus.

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPCteam looks at the tradeoff between chip performance and security. In the aftermath of the recently disclosed Spectre and Meltdown exploits, Cryptograpy guru Paul Kocher from Rambus is calling for a divergence in processor architectures:

The direction that we need to go as an industry though is …We need to stop trying to build one processor architecture that is great for playing video games and doing wire transfers. We need to build architectures where there are cores and software stacks designed for security that can be slower, that can be simpler, and we need separate ones that are optimized for performance.”

In this video, Paul Kocher presents: Spectre – Exploiting Speculative Execution. Kocher is the lead author of the paper on the Spectre processor vulnerability.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

    • Shahin points us to a story about the first-ever photography of a single atom. Unsurprisingly, it looks like a tiny dot.
    • Henry is concerned about the story about a Canadian system administrator that intentionally blew out all the switches on a railway system. How safe is our whole transportation system?
    • Dan likes the story about Russian nuclear scientists who were arrested for mining Bitcoin with their state-owned supercomputer.
    • Rich notes that ORNL has posted their plans for Frontier, their first Exascale supercomputer. It looks like it will be fully operational in 2023.

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RFHPC181: New Leadership at HPE

Antonio Neri, CEO, HPE

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at HPE’s new CEO, Antonio Neri, a longtime HPE executive who previously served as President of the company. As the number 1 server vendor in the HPC space, this change will be one to watch as we transition to the exascale era in the next five years or so.

This transistion comes at an interesting time for HPE, as one of their main competitors, Dell Technologies, is reportedly looking at an IPO or reverse acquisition by VMware.

Closer to home in the HPC space:

  • HPE just landed a huge deal at DoD Modernization for four supercomputers totaling 14 Petaflops of performance
  • HP-CAST host Frank Baetke has left the company and will continue on as Chair of EOFS.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Henry points us to news about one of the worst Flash zero-day exploitsyet. Just turn it off, guys.
    • Apple is planning to release IOS 11.3, which will allow users to turn off their infamous throttling of iPhones in order to preserve battery life over time.
    • Henry also notes that his laptop battery life has suffered greatly since applying the Spectre/Meltdown patch.
    • Linus Torvolds seems to agree, saying that the Intel Meltdown patch is Complete and Utter Garbage. Both Intel and AMD say they will have new immune hardware by the end of the year.
  • Earlier this week, Shahin went on a big acquisition of a new home office printer, opting for a rather spendy HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw. Rich is sticking with his $30 Pantum.
  • Rich points us to a new interview with Theodore Omtzigt from Posit Research. The Singapore startup is looking to build a new kind of supercomputer based on John Gustafson’s Posit Arithmetic.
  • Dan notes that Oracle has launched Blockchain as a Service.

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RFHPC180: How NVIDIA’s new EULA Bans Consumer GPUs in the Datacenter

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at NVIDIA’s new EULA GeForce Software user license, which prohibits the use of consumer GPUs in the datacenter. We are not looking to beat up on anyone, but our focus is on what limitations this might mean for the industry:

No Datacenter Deployment. The SOFTWARE is not licensed for datacenter deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is permitted.

When we purchase hardware, aren’t we free to use it any way we please? And why do BitCoin miners get a pass during a worldwide GPU shortage?

Plus, what do we mean by the word “datacenter?” anyway? Shahin predicts the imminent proliferation of 5G networking capabilities will move computing closer to the edge, thereby changing what we mean by the term “datacenter.”

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Shahin likes the news about the Hasselblad 400 Megapixel camera with sensor-shift technology.
  • Rich points us to a D-Wave Seminar from SC17 that does a great job of explaining quantum computing and what type of applications can be adapted to take advantage of it.
  • Dan is not swayed by the news that the city of Barcelona is switching from Windows to Linux. He reminds us that Munich tried the same thing years ago and ended up switching back.

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RFHPC179: A Look at the Cryptocurrency Crash

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the recent cryptocurrency crash and why prices for these coins is so volatile.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Henry points us to a story about Boeing’s new autonomous drone that carry up to 500 pound packages for home delivery.
  • Dan notes that, after more than five years of uninterrupted business contraction, IBM on Thursday reported a quarter of growth spurred by its cloud portfolio and new mainframes and processors.
  • Rich likes the story a new patent that may solve the problems we’ve talked about with IEEE floating point arithmetic. But while the solution seems intriguing, there are some questions as to prior art.

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RFHPC178: Europe’s Big Investment in Exascale

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at European Commission’s recent move to fund exascale development with 1 Billion Euros.

While Europe already had a number of exascale initiatives under way, this is a major step forward in that it puts up the money. Under a new legal and funding structure, the Commission’s contribution will be $486 million, or roughly half of the projected EUR 1 Billion total. Before the new structure was put in place, the Commission was effectively limited to contributing only 20 percent of HPC initiatives undertaken with member states.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

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RFHPC177: A Closer Look at the Spectre and Meltdown Exploits

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the performance ramifications of the Spectre and Meltdown exploits that affect processors from Intel, AMD, and many others. While patches are on the way, the performance hit from these patches could be as high as twenty or thirty percent in some cases.

For information and links to useful resources, visit the security research findings page on Intel.com.

Download the White Paper: How the Meltdown and Spectre bugs work and what you can do to prevent a performance plummet.

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RFHPC176: Things Not Invited Back in 2018

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team reviews their list of things Not Invited Back in 2018. Along the way, they share some of their New Year Resolutions.

Not Invited Back for 2018:

  • Henry want to see an end to Swatting.
  • Dan wants to see an end to IEEE Floating-Point Arithmetic
  • Rich is not inviting PEZY back since their CEO got arrested for padding expense reports and bilking the Japanese government.

2018 Resolutions:

Shahin is not inviting back Fake News. Here he shares his resolutions for better social media:

  1. Recognize that sharing is a reward, so keep that in mind. Don’t publicize what doesn’t deserve publicity.
  2. Fact check before you share.
  3. Welcome high quality disagreement

Dan resolves to do the following in 2018:

  • Stop inserting incorrect statements into the Wikipedia
  • He also resolves to come up with better excuses.
  • To keep life interesting, he plans to start expect more from people, especially strangers.

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RFHPC174: Our 2018 Technology Predictions

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team reviews 2017 Technology Predictions from OrionX.

While all the numbers are not in yet, here are the OrionX 2017 predictions look to be true:

  • Azure will grow faster than AWS. While the big three are all growing, Azure seems to be growing at the fastest rate. Microsoft has also made progress in the HPC Cloud space with Azure, including the acquisition of Cycle Computing.
  • More chips than Vegas; riskier too. There are something like 26 AI chips in development, much more than the market can sustain.
  • Server revenue growth will be lower than GDP growth. Quarterly numbers suggest this trend is continuing.
  • ARM server market share will stay below 3 percent. We saw a lot of ARM hardware at SC17, but it will take a while for sales to make a dent in the server market.

After that, we do our 2018 Predictions:

  • Henry predicts:
    • Security hacks will get even worse this coming year, with at least five major breaches in 2018.
    • By the end of next year, quantum computing will be on our doorstep with a number of announcements by big vendors and people are going to jump on the bandwagon.
  • Rich predicts:
    • We will finally see an ARM-based system on the TOP500 in 2018. Henry thinks there will be as many as 10.
    • Project Cyclops will actually have an HPCG benchmark in 2018.
    • Cray Inc will be acquired by Microsoft in late 2018. Dan thinks it could be someone else by the end of the year.
  • Shahin predicts:
    • 5G networks will be a game-changer in a number of market segments  in 2018.
    • The future is IoT, Blockchain, AI, and quantum, where machines will do the majority of the creating, consuming, and paying. Humans will not even be in the loop.
  • Dan predicts:
    • More diversity in systems, where the homogeneous datacenter starts to go away with FPGA-accelerated systems purpose-built for specific applications.
    • He also plugs his 12 Days of Christmas Rage video that came out on Christmas Day.

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RFHPC173: Saying Goodbye to Net Neutrality

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the FCC’s move to abolish Net Neutrality regulations put in place during the Obama administration. Dan thinks this is a good move to remove unnecessary regulations, but rest of the crew is worried about where this will lead the future of the Internet.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Dan notes that Lenovo’s new SuperMUC-NG supercomputer coming to LRZ Germany will sport nearly 27 Petaflops of computing power.
  • Rich points us a presentation about the “GPU Killer” TPU2 processor that Google developed for processing AI workloads.
  • Shahin reiterates that we really need a set of different names for FLOPS with varying precision, as they are not all created equal.
    • He also notes there are dozens of chips in the works that are looking to take advantage of the hot AI market.
    • IBM announced their new IBM Q network with JP Morgan for research into industrial applications for quantum computing.
    • We now have new buzzwords: Y to Q (years to quantum), quantum supremacy, and quantum-safe cryptography.
  • Henry points us to yet another hacker story about a security hole in DirectTV boxes.

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