Is Our Future Liquid Cooled? Also: Provenance of Surveillance Data!

The Veracity and Provenance of Surveillance Data

Controversy strikes when news breaks that “Amazon’s home security company Ring has enlisted local police departments around the country to advertise its surveillance cameras in exchange for free Ring products and a “portal” that allows police to request footage from these cameras, a secret agreement obtained by Motherboard shows.”

The nature of such agreements can, well, garner national attention, as we see here (and do our part). That kind of attention led to the PD cited in the news in Lakeland, FL, to clarify its relationship with Ring, saying “their agreement isn’t about fostering a particular brand of doorbell, but rather any tool that helps crime-fighting.” Several important topics come up which can easily kindle, if not ignite, passions, and they do here also.

All of this is because the evidentiary benefits of actual images is not in doubt. Or is it?! An important issue in this day and age is the veracity and provenance of video feeds, which are liable to be complete fabrications. Welcome to the digital age!

New Supercomputer in Austria

A new system built by Lenovo checks in at #82 on the TOP500 list and is liquid cooled, leading to a debate on the future of cooling and various forms of liquid-cooling: direct contact, immersion, phase chance. Dan puts Henry and Shahin on the spot to look in the crystal ball and see if they can see it as clearly as he does. He thinks they failed.

VSC-4 from Lenovo is Austria’s most powerful supercomputer

Catch of the Week

Henry:

Apple looks ahead to 5G with purchase of Intel’s smartphone-modem unit

Apple is paying Intel $1 billion for the chip maker’s smartphone-modem division in a deal driven by the upcoming transition to the next generation of wireless technology.

The agreement announced Thursday comes three months after Apple AAPL, -2.12%   ended a long-running dispute with one of Intel’s rivals, Qualcomm QCOM, -0.07%  . That ensured Apple would have a pipeline of chips it needs for future iPhones to work on ultrafast wireless networks known as 5G.

The Apple-Qualcomm truce prompted Intel INTC, -1.91%   to abandon its attempts to make chips for 5G modems, effectively putting that part of its business up for grabs.

Shahin:

Shahin talks about Stephen Wolfram‘s blog describing his appearance before a US Senate committee.

Testifying at the Senate about A.I.-Selected Content on the Internet

Three and a half weeks ago I got an email asking me if I’d testify at a hearing of the US Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. Given that the title of the hearing was “Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms” I wasn’t sure why I’d be relevant.

But then the email went on: “The hearing is intended to examine, among other things, whether…

Dan:

An entire nation just got hacked

(CNN) – Asen Genov is pretty furious. His personal data was made public this week after records of more than 5 million Bulgarians got stolen by hackers from the country’s tax revenue office.

In a country of just 7 million people, the scale of the hack means that just about every working adult has been affected.

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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

Henry:

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:

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:

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.

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ExaScale is a 4-way Competition

ExaScale is a 4-way Competition

In this post-ISC show, the RadioFree team discusses

  • Magical cooling technology from Europe. Dan goes over magic beads that draw heat away and can carry-on doing it pretty much forever in a technology from the venerable Fraunhofer Institute and showcased by Lenovo.
  • How pursuit of ExaScale computing is turning into heated competition with the US, China, Japan, and Europe. The European effort is targeting 2 pre-exa installation in the coming months, and 2 actual ExaScale installations in the 2022-2023 timeframe at least one of which will be based on European technology. This presumably refers to the European Process Initiative.
    The software ecosystem is an important consideration and how they all evolve and whether or not they converge will be a big issue.
  • Another heated competition at the ISC Student Cluster Competition with the team from South Africa claiming the top spot. Dan has developed an efficiency metric that he will unveil in a future episode. This could separate the prowess of the team from that of the system!

Catch of the Week

Henry:

Henry point out the challenge for customers when the company that breached their data goes out of business.

Collections Firm Behind LabCorp, Quest Breaches Files for Bankruptcy

A medical billing firm responsible for a recent eight-month data breach that exposed the personal information on nearly 20 million Americans has filed for bankruptcy, citing “enormous expenses” from notifying affected consumers and the loss of its four largest customers.

 

Shahin:

Shahin highlights a paper on the beginnings of the programming language APL. A cool historical account.

The Socio-Technical Beginnings of APL, by Eugene McDonnell

This paper gives some of the history of implementations of APL, and concentrates on the system aspects of these implementations, paying special attention to the evolution of the workspace concept, the time-sharing scheduling strategy, and the handling of the terminal. It contrasts the development of APL with the development of other time-sharing systems which were being built at the same time.

Dan:

Dan relays the sad story of the multi-year demise of a the honor bar at the hotel near ISC.

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Why did HPE buy Cray?

Why did HPE buy Cray?

The RFHPC team tackles the HPE-Cray acquisition as it reviews the companies’ recent moves and strengths and market conditions in the context of:

  • the 5-tier data center application architecture: Embedded, Mobile, Desktop, On-premises, Off-premises
  • the emergence of AI as a must-do enterprise app, and
  • increasing commonality between supercomputers and enterprise servers.

Catch of the Week

Henry:

Another week another breach!

Massive Quest Diagnostics data breach impacts 12 million patients

A massive data breach has struck Quest Diagnostics and the information of up to 11.9 million patients has potentially been compromised. On Monday, the US clinical laboratory said that American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), a billing collections provider that works with Quest, informed the company that an unauthorized user had managed to obtain access to AMCA systems.

 

Dan:

Dan points out that the new Apple Mac Pro can be configured to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Given that he and Dan are PC people, the nuances of the Apple value are obviously lost of them, goes the counter argument.

Apple’s top spec Mac Pro will likely cost at least $35,000

That’s before you count the GPUs or a Pro Display XDR screen.
Apple announced today that its new Mac Pro starts at an already pricey $6,000, but the company neglected to mention how much the top-of-the-line model will cost. So we shopped around for equivalent parts to the top-end spec that Apple’s promising. As it turns out: $33,720.88 is likely the bare minimum — and that’s before factoring in the four GPUs, which could easily jack that price up to around $45,000.

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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!).

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TOP500 Jun2019, Facebook Coin

The new TOP500 list of most powerful supercomputers is out and we do our usual quick analysis. Not much changed in the TOP10 but a lot is changing further down the list. Here is a quick take:

  • There are 65 new entries in 2019.
  • US science is receiving support via DOE sites and academic sites like TACC.
  • 26 countries are represented. China continues to widen its lead, now with 219 entries, followed by the US with 116, Japan with 29, France with 19, the UK with 18, Germany with 14, Ireland and the Netherlands with 13 each, and Singapore with 10.
  • Vendors substantially reflect the country standings. Lenovo has 175 entries, Inspur 71, and Sugon 63, all in China. Cray with 42 and HPE with 40 (which will combine when their deal closes), followed by Dell at 17 and IBM at 16.  Bull has 21 entries.
  • There are a lot of “accidental supercomputers” on the list. These are systems that probably are not be doing much science or AI work but they could, and the vendors counted them and it seems to be within the rules to list them. It’s controversial but not a new practice.
  • There are several systems listed as “Internet” companies. Hard to tell what that means but it points to the existence of very large clusters in the cloud for whatever purpose. Last year, there was one system listed as Amazon EC2, which remains on the list. This time, there is also one at Facebook. Usually the big social/cloud players don’t care to participate, though they obviously could summon the resources to run the benchmarks.
  • Just over half of systems use Ethernet as a fabric. A quarter us InfiniBand, nearly 50 use Intel’s OmniPath, and the rest, 55, use custom interconnects like the ones Cray provides. The team talks about Cray+HPE entering the interconnect business for real and if so, they will be formidable.
  • The majority of entries, 367, do not have any accelerators. 125 use Nvidia GPUs.
  • The overwhelming majority of the systems, 478 of them, are based on Intel CPUs. 13 are IBM, and there is 1 system based on Arm provided by Cavium, now part of Marvell.
  • So the when it comes to chips, it’s an Intel game with a respectable showing by Nvidia when GPUs are used. Alternatives are bound to appear as the tens and tens of AI chips in the works become available and Arm, AMD, and IBM build on. The recently announced system at Oakridge will be all AMD, and that will point to an alternative as well.
  • Notably, Intel is listed as the vendor for 2 entries and Nvidia is listed for 4. While Intel has stayed largely away from looking like a system vendor, Nvidia is going for it with its usual alacrity. That, and the pending acquisition of Mellanox by Nvidia should serve as a warning to all system vendors who might feel stuck between treating Nvidia as an important supplier and an up and coming competitor.

CryptoSuper500

Shahin mentions the 2nd edition of the CryptoSuper500 list (really 50 for now), a list developed by his colleague Dr. Stephen Perrenod, which was launched last November, and is being released at the same time as the TOP500. The TOP500 has spawned variations that look at different workloads and attributes, for example, the Green500Graph500, and IO500 lists. CryptoSuper500 was inspired by those lists. The material for the inaugural edition of the CryptoSuper500 list here.

Cryptocurrency mining operations are often pooled and are very much supercomputing class, typically using accelerator technologies such as custom ASICs, FPGAs, or GPUs. Bitcoin is the most notable of such currencies. Scroll down for the top-10 list and see the slides for the full list and the methodology.

Catch of the Week

Henry:

Henry talks about check-out lanes at Target all being down for unknown reasons, though he hesitates to call that a cybersecurity breach. It turned out he’s right and the company blamed an “internal technology issue”.

Target down (then back up) as cash registers fail and leave long lines

Target’s payment systems appeared to be missing the mark the day before Father’s Day, as terminals went AWOL for a couple of hours in a number of the company’s US retail outlets. The outage caused long lines but prompted an encouraging show of sympathy for Target employees from people on Twitter. And there were some jokes too, of course.

Shahin:

Facebook is expected to release a new cryptocurrency that is already impacting the crypto market.

Here’s what we know so far about the secretive Facebook coin

Facebook is likely to release information about its secretive cryptocurrency project, codenamed Libra, as soon as June 18, TechCrunch reports.

As is traditional with new cryptocurrencies, the social networking giant is expected to release a so-called “white paper” outlining how the currency works and the company’s plans for it.

 

Dan:

Dan reminds us all of the inimitable Erich Anton Paul von Däniken and his ancient astronauts hypotheses!

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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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