Enterprises go HPC, Chips go Open Source, China goes for the top spot

We continue to want to make these introductions pretty brief here but not this time, apparently! Here’s this week’s synopsis.

Nvidia GTC 2019 announcements

We discussed the recent GTC conference. Dan has been attending since well before it became the big and important conference that it is today. We get a quick update on what was covered: the long keynote, automotive and robotics, the Mellanox acquisition, how a growing fraction of enterprise applications will be AI.

In agreement with the message from GTC, Shahin re-iterates his long-held belief that the future of enterprise applications will be HPC and once again asserts that AI as we know it today is a subset of HPC. Not everyone agrees. Henry brings up varying precisions in AI and a discussion ensues about what is HPC. There seems to be agreement that regardless of what label you put on it, it is the same (HPC) industry and community that is driving this new trend. And that led to a discussion of selling into the enterprise and the need for new models and vocabulary and such.

Speaking of varying precision, there is also Nvidia’s new automatic mixed precision capability for Tensorflow and there is a bit of discussion on that.

China plans multibillion dollar investment in supercomputing

On the heels of the Aurora announcement, there was news in the South China Morning Post that the top spot in supercomputing is something the country is investing in. No surprise, but interesting to see, and consistent with the general view that supercomputing drives competitive strength.

Catch of the Week

Henry:

Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. Facebook says an ongoing investigation has so far found no indication that employees have abused access to this data.

Shahin:

MIPS R6 Architecture Now Available for Open Use

MIPS 32-bit and 64-bit architecture – the most recent version, release 6 – will become available Thursday (March 28) for anyone to download at MIPS Open web page. Under the MIPS Open program, participants have full access to the MIPS R6 architecture free of charge – with no licensing or royalty fees.

Dan:

Vengeful sacked IT bod destroyed ex-employer’s AWS cloud accounts. Now he’ll spent rest of 2019 in the clink

An irate sacked techie who rampaged through his former employer’s AWS accounts with a purloined login, nuking 23 servers and triggering a wave of redundancies, has been jailed.

 

Dead LAN’s hand: IT staff ‘locked out’ of data center’s core switch after the only bloke who could log into it dies

‘We can replace it but we have no idea what the config is on the device’

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Multicore Scaling Slow Down, and Fooling AI

The team has an animated discussion about multicore scaling, how easy it seems to be to mislead AI systems, and some good sized catches of the week. A common thread is “data” as is often the case these days.

Dan makes a couple of important announcements.

First is the idea that is brewing about revamping the podcast.

Second, to the dismay of the vast number of his supporters, is his decision to not run for the highest office in 2020!

We continue with making these introductions pretty brief here. This time, we include not only the links but also the first paragraph of the linked page as a block quote so you have a bit more information about what is discussed.

Specialized Chips Won’t Save Us From Impending ‘Accelerator Wall’

As CPU performance improvements have slowed down, we’ve seen the semiconductor industry move towards accelerator cards to provide dramatically better results. Nvidia has been a major beneficiary of this shift, but it’s part of the same trend driving research into neural network accelerators, FPGAs, and products like Google’s TPU. These accelerators have delivered tremendous performance boosts in recent years, raising hopes that they present a path forward, even as Moore’s law scaling runs out. A new paper suggests this may be less true than many would like.

 

Nice ‘AI solution’ you’ve bought yourself there. Not deploying it direct to users, right? Here’s why maybe you shouldn’t

Top tip: Ask your vendor what it plans to do about adversarial examples.

RSA It’s trivial to trick neural networks into making completely incorrect decisions, just by feeding them dodgy input data, and there are no foolproof ways to avoid this, a Googler warned today.

 

Catch of the Week

MyEquifax.com Bypasses Credit Freeze PIN

Most people who have frozen their credit files with Equifax have been issued a numeric Personal Identification Number (PIN) which is supposed to be required before a freeze can be lifted or thawed. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have an account at the credit bureau’s new myEquifax portal, it may be simple for identity thieves to lift an existing credit freeze at Equifax and bypass the PIN armed with little more than your, name, Social Security number and birthday.

 

Announcing the Open Sourcing of Windows Calculator

Today, we’re excited to announce that we are open sourcing Windows Calculator on GitHub under the MIT License. This includes the source code, build system, unit tests, and product roadmap. Our goal is to build an even better user experience in partnership with the community. We are encouraging your fresh perspectives and increased participation to help define the future of Calculator.

 

Huawei Sues The US, Prodding It to Prove Suspicions

THE WORLD’S LARGEST telecommunications-equipment company, China’s Huawei, is suing the US government. But the suit isn’t just about US law. It’s part of Huawei’s larger campaign to defend its role as a global provider of telecom gear amid fears that its technology is or could be used by the Chinese government for spying. In essence, Huawei is challenging the US government to prove its suspicions.

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AI: Realness and Bias

Starting with this episode, we’ll get a bit more efficient in describing the episodes. Please let us know if you prefer the long format. If you just subscribe on iTunes and never see these words, well, that tells us something too!

In this episode, the team discusses AI, bias in AI, and just how real actual AI out there is. Ethics in AI, policy, legal framework are all big threads here. The trigger is the rather funny article Artificial Intelligence, You Know it isn’t real, yeah?

Catch of the Week

Shahin applauds NIST’s new Risk Management Framework, and especially the inclusion of supply chain security, something he and Henry keep bringing up.

Henry discusses sensationalism in technical coverage by the example of an article that says blockchains can be hacked but lacks enough depth and thus fails to impress. As expected, Shahin comes to the defense of the technology, explaining that it depends on the consensus algorithm and participation, etc. not just blockchain per se. Discussion ensues about all manner of blockchains and the spectrum that is forming there with permissioned and permissionless chains.

Dan: In a switch from uplifting news to scary ones, Dan shares the news that Kalashnikov rolls out a weaponized suicide drone.

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Nvidia, Mellanox: Married!

Big news in the industry today was Nvidia buying Mellanox for $6.9B. This called fo an emergency session of our crack panel.

While it will be several months before the full impact of this merger is felt, the RFHPC team believes this will change both the HPC and the Datacenter markets. It also signals Nvidia’s journey towards becoming more of a systems company and gives them a better shot at the enterprise AI market.

This is also good news for all the alternatives in the market, Shahin and Henry believe. There are a large number of AI chips in the works around the globe, and a growing number of interconnect options on the market. They will now have a chance to present themselves as a more neutral option.

Since the combined company will now represent a bigger portion of the total bill, it has a strengthened hand in the face of growing competition, while, on the other hand, becoming a more visible part of the total system cost, inviting new competition.

Listen in to hear the full conversation.

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What’s an AI Supercomputer? What’s up with software SMP?

We start our discussion by contemplating the fact that Shahin doesn’t have a middle name (he says he never needed one) and touching on why Henry has picked up the nick name ‘Gator’ Newman.

What’s an AI supercomputer?

Our first topic is whether a supercomputer can or cannot be a “AI Supercomputer.” This is based on France (along with HPE) unveiling a new AI system which will double the capacity of French supercomputing. So what are the differences between a traditional super and a AI super. According to Dan, it mostly comes down to how many GPUs the system is configured with, while Shahin and Henry think it has something to do with the datasets. Send us a note or a tweet if you have an opinion on this.

Software SMP hits 10k

The guys also discuss ScaleMP and how their announcement of record results, with close to 10,000 customers as of the close of 2018. This led to talk about SMP vs. MPP from a performance standpoint. Henry asserted that a clustered approach will always be superior to a big SMP approach, all things being equal. Dan doesn’t agree and Shahin confesses his love of ‘fat node’ clustering. Dan agrees with Shahin, but wonders why no one is doing it.

We also note that Mellanox got a nice design win with the Finns, as they’ll be installing 200 Gb/s HDR InfiniBand interconnect in a new Finnish supercomputer to be deployed in 2019 and 2020. The interconnect will be used in a Dragonfly topology.

Catch of the Week

  1. Shahin’s catch of the week is a mathematical puzzle titled “The most unexpected answer to a counting puzzle.” Here’s a link to the video.
  2. Dan likes a good comeback story and in light of that, his catch of the week is AMD nabbing a design win at Nikhef.
  3. Henry HAS NO CATCH OF THE WEEK. This makes him the “RF-HPC Villain of the Week” 🙂

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RFHPC213: Running Down the TOP500 at SC18

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks back on the highlights of SC18 and the newest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Buddy Bland shows off Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer at ORNL.

The latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out, a remarkable ranking that shows five Department of Energy supercomputers in the top 10, with the first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge and Sierra at Livermore. With the number one and number two systems on the planet, the “Rebel Alliance” vendors of IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA stand far and tall above the others.

Summit widened its lead as the number one system, improving its High Performance Linpack (HPL) performance from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since its debut on the previous list in June 2018. Sierra also added to its HPL result from six months ago, going from 71.6 to 94.6 petaflops, enough to bump it from the number three position to number two. Both are IBM-built supercomputers, powered by Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

Sierra’s ascendance pushed China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, into third place. Prior to last June, it had held the top position on the TOP500 list for two years with its HPL performance of 93.0 petaflops. TaihuLight was developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

In this video from ISC 2018, Yan Fisher from Red Hat and Buddy Bland from ORNL discuss Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer. Red Hat teamed with IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA to provide users with a new level of performance for HPC and AI workloads.

Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A), deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, is now in the number four position with a Linpack score of 61.4 petaflops. It was upgraded earlier this year by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), replacing the older Intel Xeon Phi accelerators with the proprietary Matrix-2000 chips.

Top-500, Green-500, IO-500, HPCG, and now CryptoSuper-500 all point to growing versatility of supercomputers,” said Shahin Khan from OrionX. “It’s time to more explicitly recognize that. Counting systems which are capable of doing Linpack but In fact are doing something else continues to be an issue. We need additional info about systems so we can tally them correctly and make this less of a game.”

At number five is Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. At 21.2 petaflops, it maintains its standing as the most powerful system in Europe. It is powered by a combinations of Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs

Trinity, a Cray XC40 system operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories improved its performance to 20.2 petaflops, enough to move it up one position to the number six spot. It uses Intel Xeon Phi processors, the only top ten system to do so.

The AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) installed in Japan at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is listed at number seven with a Linpack mark of 19.9 petaflops. The Fujitsu-built system is powered by Intel Xeon Gold processors, along with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs.

Germany provided a new top ten entry with SuperMUC-NG, a Lenovo-built supercomputer installed at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (Leibniz-Rechenzentrum) in Garching, near Munich. With more than 311,040 Intel Xeon cores and an HPL performance of 19.5 petaflops, it captured the number eight position.

Titan, a Cray XK7 installed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and previously the most powerful supercomputer in the US, is now the number nine system. It achieved 17.6 petaflops using NVIDIA K20x GPU accelerators.

Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the 10th-ranked TOP500 system. It was first delivered in 2011, achieving 17.2 petaflops on HPL.

See our complete coverage of SC18

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