Quantum Apps Are Hybrid

“Quantum applications are always and only hybrid” is the quote that Shahin wants you to remember as he gives an update on recent news in Quantum Computing, and especially how to program them. If you’re always going to have to mix classical code with quantum code then you need an environment that is built for that workflow, and thus we see a lot of attention given to that in the QIS (Quantum Information Science) area. This is reminiscent of OpenGL for graphics accelerators and OpenCL/CUDA for compute accelerators.

Henry talks about 5G and how people are starting to get serious bandwidth: 1.8 gbps has been seen on existing smart phones. Henry’s super fast cable modem set-up is delivering 220 gbps and 16ms latency. And 5G is only going to get better with advertised peaks of 20 gbps and 4ms latency depending on frequency and handset and power, etc. Everyone then picks on an easy target: DSL.

Dan gives a heartfelt farewell to the retiring Titan supercomputer, complete with the matching sombre music in the background, which, discerning listeners will note, plays only when he’s talking. Affection for Titan continues in its memory, and we imagine possibly also its DRAM.

Catch of the Week


Another week another cyber-security breach! Henry has a few of them but it’s all too depressing, so he decides to pass this week.


Shahin is looking forward to attending the Hot Chips conference to be held at Stanford August . Henry is envious, given the technology candy store that the conference represents. Shahin promises to take good notes and report back in a future episode. Let him know if you’ll be there.


Dan talks about cyber-attacks and ransomeware targeting small and mid-sized cities, the impact on insurance rates, and what a hard problem that is to solve.

Listen in to hear the full conversation.

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Quantum Computing and HPC

Quantum Computing and HPC

Another scintillating and insightful episode of RFHPC is about Quantum Computing and HPC and how the two spaces are evolving and cooperating.

We welcome a a distinguished guest with a most suitable background to talk to us about HPC and Quantum Computing. Mike Booth,  who’s been in supercomputing since 1979 including stints at Cray through 2000 where he ran the Software and Applications division and was later a GM at StorageTek heading the network storage division. He got into Quantum Computing when he joined D-Wave. He had just accepted to be the CTO of Quantum Computing, Inc. when we recorded this show.

We discuss and touch on how Quantum Computing and HPC interface, analog vs digital, qubits, magnets, resistors, connectors, cryogenics, algorithms, languages, the huge search spaces, NP-complete problems, quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (Qubo), Tabu search, etc. and how they are two different games right now but touching two sides of the big problems that represent grand challenges. Because QC is an accelerator, it fits nicely with how a lot of HPC is being done today.

We’re going to have to bring Mike back and we look forward to that.

ExaScale at Oakridge

Mike happens to be in Tennessee, and the episode was recorded when the new ExaScale system at Oakridge was announced so the team. That was quite a significant day for US science, and a second big win for Cray, this time with AMD. It’s one of the few large systems that is not based on Intel or Nvidia technologies, and was described as:
  • 100 Cray Shasta cabinets
  • 40 MW power
  • More than 1 million lbs weight
  • 7,300 square feet
  • 90 miles of cabling
  • 5,900 gallons of water per minute for cooling

We don’t remember who exactly had a hard stop, but no time for Catch of the Week this week, which some of you would be pleased to hear!

Give it a listen (and take good notes!).

Listen in to hear the full conversation.

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The sinking of the Itanic, a respectful farewell

Our conversation begins with Dan berating Henry for cheaping out on a new headset for our Radio Free HPC recordings. (Henry has since relented and pried open his wallet to purchase a truly fine headset.)

Finally, we get on to the show proper. After years of futility, Intel has finally put a stake in the heart of their Itanium processor. The final shipment will take place in 2021. The boys discuss some Itanium history and reasons behind the end of the processor. Shahin gives us a tutorial on the history of 64 bit computing and we discuss the chip wars in general.

Following a respectful farewell to Itanium and all that it offered, we moved on to discuss how the European exascale effort is shaping up. Recent news articles are discussing how countries in the European Union are ganging up in an effort to win the honor of hosting the fastest supercomputer in Europe. The first consortium consists of Nordic countries Finland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, plus the Czech Republic, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Two of the advantages these countries have are power costs that are half of the European average, along with temperatures to match (which will help with cooling).

The guys talk about what the term ‘pre-exascale’ really means. Is it a 100 PB system? 200 PB? 300 PB? Tune into the broadcast to hear the thrilling answer. We also discuss the composition of the machine in terms of processors and accelerators.

Catch of the Week

Henry’s Catch of the Week confirms his distain for all things crypto currency related. A Canadian bitcoin exchange president dies suddenly and takes his password to his grave, taking with him the coins of more than 100,000 users said to total more than $130 million US. Henry is vindicated and Dan heartily agrees with him and piles on with “I hope Bitcoin goes below zero.” Shahin defends Bitcoin and Blockchain in general.

Shahin shares a game called The Last Man, where people compete to become the last person to learn about an event, such as who won the Superbowl.

Dan’s Catch of the Week is led by the admission that his comprehension of quantum computing is fleeting at best. Sometimes he gets it, and other times he doesn’t. Something that might help him get over the quantum hump is a series of comic books published by the NSF’s EPiQC that cover quantum computing history and how it works.

Be sure to download this episode of Radio Free HPC, you could be our 16th listener!

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Weather Forecasting Goes Crowdsourcing, Q means Quantum

In this episode of Radio Free HPC, Dan, Henry, and Shahin start with a spirited discussion of IBM’s recent announcement regarding their crowd sourced weather prediction application. Henry was dubious as to whether Big Blue could get access to the data they need in order to truly put out a valuable product. Dan had questions about the value of the crowd sourced data and how it could be scrubbed in order to be useful. Shahin was pretty favorable towards IBM’s plans and believes that they will solve the problems that Henry and Dan raised.

IBM came up again in the show as the boys kick around IBM’s quantum computing commercial system. Shahin brought out the point that for a market that has few applications and success stories, it attracted nearly every big vendor in the business.

Catch of the Week:

Henry told the guys about a new security flaw as pointed out by Krebs, this one concerning an exploit of credit cards.

Shahin talked about the newly proposed Deep500 benchmark, designed to compare deep learning and inference performance.

Dan discussed a recent interview with a VC who believed that by 2035, more than 40% of jobs world wide would be taken over by AI. This prompted a discussion of how technology has impacted employment and the economy in the past and how the accelerating pace of economic displacement in the era of AI is much quicker than in any other time.

We end the episode by denouncing attorneys.

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