NDAs Re: [Beowulf] Nvidia, cuda, tesla and... where's my double floating point?

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Mon Jun 16 12:39:41 EDT 2008


MOD +2: Informative.

Jim Lux wrote:
> At 08:11 AM 6/16/2008, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>> Jim,
>>
>> Reality is that the person who SPECULATES that something is good
>> also hides behind a DNA. This is another typical case of that.
> 
> 
> perhaps..
> 
> 
>> On the one hand claiming a NDA, on the other hand implying that is a
>> very good product that will get
>> released.
> 
> Perhaps.. It's also that someone might be under NDA, be involved in the 
> technical side of a development, but not be aware of the machinations of 
> the marketing side.  I'll bet more than one person has seen features 
> added or removed because of "product positioning" after they last saw 
> the thing they worked on.  You might toil on a project, it gets released 
> to internal manufacturing, and 6 to 12 months later, it pops out on the 
> market and has significant differences from what you last saw.
> 
> ( At a place I used to work, there were always comments about not 
> letting the engineers go to the trade show where the product was being 
> demoed..)
> 
> 
> 
>> My world is a bit binary there. Especially because of VERY BAD
>> experiences in the past.
> 
> 
> With NDAs?  (I'm sure lots of people have had less than wonderful 
> experiences in that regard)
> 
> 
>> Either shut up entirely or do not hide behind a NDA.
> 
> That's kind of hard when one has expertise in an area, and one wants to 
> correct a misinterpretation or misstatement made by someone without as 
> many facts to hand. (On the other hand, there's always the risk that the 
> commenter is themself missing part of the story...)
> 
> 
> In the other 95% of the cases the reason was that they didn't know a
>> fok about what their competitors were gonna show up with.
>> Tunnelvision is common. Good products don't need this type of NDA- 
>> promotion.
> 
> Actually, they do.  In a perfect world, the inherent quality would 
> result in the world beating a path to your door to get your inherently 
> superior product.  In a real world, you might not have the resources to 
> bring the product to market as quickly as someone else, so you need time 
> to get IP protection in place, for instance.
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> In case of NVIDIA if you google a tad you will figure out that the
>> double precision promise has been done more than once,
>> many many years ago, and each time we got dissappointed.
> 
> Well.. I suspect that you didn't actually pay Nvidia for that 
> capability, so the promise is just a marketing pledge, which is of no 
> real legal value. (except as noted below).  I can see that Nvidia can 
> make a wise business decision to support or not support some capability 
> based on the cost to provide it vs revenue they'll get.
> 
> (Note that if you're in a situation of market power, and you announce 
> capabilities or products that you have no real intention of producing, 
> just to scare off the competitors, you can get into trouble.  IBM S/360 
> is a case in point.  Proving it is another matter, eh?)
> 
> 
> 
>> Then instead of a $200 pci-e card, we needed to buy expensive Tesla's
>> for that, without getting very relevant indepth technical information 
>> on how to program for
>> that type of hardware.
> 
> That's the price one pays for being on the fringes of the mainstream.  
> Go out and pay $10-20K for a custom coprocessor card from a small volume 
> company and the mfr will pay a lot more attention to you.  For an 
> Nvidia, with a half a billion a year in revenue, the niche 
> supercomputing market is a pimple on a pimple on a pimple of their behind.
> 
> 
>> The few trying on those Tesla's, though they won't ever post this as
>> their job is fulltime GPU programming, report so far very 
>> dissappointing numbers for applications that
>> really matter for our nations.
> 
> if they really matter, then serious money needs to be thrown at it.  
> While I'm not generally an apologist for the "fiduciary responsibility 
> to the shareholder" mindset, merely because something is interesting or 
> intellectually valuable doesn't get it funded.
> 
> 
> 
>> Truth is that you can always do a claim of 1 teraflop of computing
>> power. If that doesn't get backupped by technical documents
>> how to get it out of the hardware if your own testprograms show that
>> you can't get that out of the hardware, it is rather useless to start
>>  programming for such a platform.
> 
> Yep.. that's why *I* always want to see the documents before committing 
> significant development resources to a project. More than once, I've 
> been burned by someone's great idea that didn't pan out.
> 
> 
>> It is questionable whether it is interesting to design some
>> algorithms for GPU's; it takes endless testing of every tiny detail
>> to figure out
>> what the GPU can and cannot do and to get accurate timings.
> 
> This can appeal to a certain type of person.  It's like tweaking the 
> engine in a car, and one does it, usually, for the challenge, not 
> because it's a cost effective way to solve a problem.  It's also 
> attractive to someone who has a lot more time than money.
> 
> 
> 
>> By the
>> time you finish with that, you can also implement the same design in
>> FPGA or ASIC/VLSI whatever.
> 
> One can, but the cost to make an ASIC is pretty high (figure $1M for a 
> spin).  You can buy an awful lot of tinkering and probing time for that 
> that million bucks. (about 8000-10000 hours).
> 
> FPGAs don't have the flops/watt efficiency that an ASIC can get to, 
> although they are getting better.
> 
> 
>> As that is of course the type of
>> interested parties in GPU programming;
>> considering the amount of computing power they need, for the same
>> budget they can also make their own CPU's.
>>
>> For other companies that i tried to get interested, there is a lot of
>> hesitation to even *investigate* that hardware, let alone give a
>> contract job to port their software to such hardware. Nvidia for all 
>> those
>> civilian and military parties is very very unattractive as of now.
> 
> Yep.  And for good reason.  Even a big DoD job is still tiny in Nvidia's 
> scale of operations. We face this all the time with NASA work.  
> Semiconductor manufacturers have no real reason to produce special 
> purpose or customized versions of their products for space use, because 
> they can sell all they can make to the consumer market. More than once, 
> I've had a phone call along the lines of this:
> 
> "Jim: I'm interested in your new ABC321 part."
> "Rep: Great. I'll just send the NDA over and we can talk about it."
> "Jim: Great, you have my email and my fax # is..."
> "Rep: By the way, what sort of volume are you going to be using?"
> "Jim: Oh, 10-12.."
> "Rep: thousand per week, excellent..."
> "Jim: No, a dozen pieces, total, lifetime buy, or at best maybe every 
> year."
> "Rep: Oh...<dial tone>"
> 
> {Well, to be fair, it's not that bad, they don't hang up on you.. but 
> that's the idea... and that's before we get into things like lot 
> traceability}
> 
> 
> 
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-- 
Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.862.3982 FAX: 979.862.3983
Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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