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The news in this category has been selected by us because we thought it would be interestingto hard core cluster geeks. Of course, you don't have to be a cluster geek to read the news stories.

I'm at the NVIDIA GPU conference and yesterday they announced their next generation GPU called Fermi. Here are the key points:

  • C++, complementing existing support for C, Fortran, Java, Python, OpenCL and DirectCompute.
  • ECC, a critical requirement for datacenters and supercomputing centers deploying GPUs on a large scale
  • 512 CUDA Cores™ featuring the new IEEE 754-2008 floating-point standard, surpassing even the most advanced CPUs
  • 8x the peak double precision arithmetic performance over NVIDIA’s last generation GPU. Double precision is critical for high-performance computing (HPC) applications such as linear algebra, numerical simulation, and quantum chemistry
  • NVIDIA Parallel DataCache™ - the world’s first true cache hierarchy in a GPU that speeds up algorithms such as physics solvers, raytracing, and sparse matrix multiplication where data addresses are not known beforehand
  • NVIDIA GigaThread™ Engine with support for concurrent kernel execution, where different kernels of the same application context can execute on the GPU at the same time (eg: PhysX® fluid and rigid body solvers)

To get the full technical story, grab the Fermi White Paper. The bottom line, NVIDIA is paying attention to HPC in a BIG way.

From the shameless plug department

I was commissioned by AMD and Sun to write a short ebook called HPC For Dummies. While I could have written a much longer book, I think it delivers on the essentials. The book is available for free after registration. You do need Adobe® Digital Editions for Windows or Mac to view it (sigh, most HPC people, like me, use Linux). Update: Now it is available as PDF. Yea! Register to get it.

HPC For Dummies Cover If there is interest in a longer book, either an extended HPC for Dummies or the completion of another book I started called The Art of Linux HPC Clusters, please take the front page poll to the right. The survey is important because part of getting a publisher interested in a book is convincing them someone will buy it! So if you want more/better/updated HPC Cluster Books, please help me out. By the way, all our past polls are located here.

Lower power InfiniBand, Cool Opterons, CUDA+LAPACK, HPC in the Cloud, and more

Welcome back to work, the summer is almost over and here are some things that may have happened while you were on vacation. First, I should mention, it is August 31 and I'm not sure if the temperature is going to break 70 F today. I live in the northeast part of the US and typically at this time each year the lawns are brown, the air is thick with humidity, and thunderstorms usually role in each afternoon to cool off our 90+ degree days. Not today. It must be due to all the new low wattage green technology hitting the computer market.

A few things that caught my eye this July, industrial HPC, a new PGI compiler with GPU support, AMD Shanghai and Intel Nehalem smackdown, a smart optimizing GCC compiler, file system news, and of course a shameless plug.

Industrial HPC

I have always been interested in industrial HPC. While I love seeing large molecules docking or galaxies colliding, I also have a fascination with how HPC can create better products or improve manufacturing processes. If you share the interest, take a look at a recent webcast (starts right away) sponsored by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. There is a meeting in New Orleans this September called C3A (Compute & Collaborate for Competitive Advantage). Registration is here. BTW, I'm not sure what to make of their web page motif, check it out.

The garage sale (or should I say tag sale given the New England location) that is SiCortex is disheartening. I worked with SiCortex enough to know that it was "SiCortex" not "SciCortex" as so many were apt to write. I also knew that these were smart people. They were doing the good work. There was no smoke and mirrors, no shining up yet another mass market turd, just bright people delivering on a daring idea. We need more of this not less.

The idea was simple. Instead of doing HPC with clusters employing faster and hotter processors, use many power efficient processors and a great interconnect. Oh yea, and use Linux from the ground up. Keep it open, keep it right. And, it worked quite well.

I have in the past talked with marketing people who seemed clueless about what they were really selling. Not SiCortex. They lived and breathed their technological value proposition. I could tell when I wrote a white paper for them. Theirs was not a "me to" product, nor was it another 1U server or blade with the latest x86 platform in it.

I suspect that the demise of SiCortex is more about the inability of the venture firms to fund the company than their ability to sell supercomputers or push the envelope. They had not yet turned a profit, but seemed to be on their way. I wish the employees of SiCortex a good transition and thanks for being brave.



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