More cores means more memory!

Intersect360 Research has released some new findings identifying Trends in HPC Architecture and Configurations. From the report, IBM again took the top spot in High Performance Computing (HPC) system vendors. The survey included end users worldwide, where IBM, Dell, HP, SGI, and Cray collectively captured 56% of the system vendors mentioned.

The report, part of Intersect360 Research's HPC Market Advisory service, provides a detailed examination of the computational systems installed at a broad sample of HPC user sites, including analysis of component technologies such as processors and accelerators. Through its partnership with Tabor Communications, Intersect360 Research surveyed the worldwide readership of HPCwire. Future years‘ Site Census surveys will leverage the newly created HPC500 group.

"Our goal in this report was to discover system-level trends within the HPC user communities by examining supplier penetration, architecture trends, and node configurations," said Dr. Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer of Intersect360 Research. "As with previous years, we surveyed a broad range of users about their current computer system installations, storage systems, networks, middleware, and the applications software supporting these installations."

Intersect360 has shared some of the findings with the HPC community:

  • IBM, followed by Dell, was the top named vendor for number of nodes installed when outliers (i.e., systems with 2,000 or more nodes) were excluded.
  • Two-processor nodes continue to dominate cluster installations at surveyed sites, with a 60% market share. Four-processor nodes are installed on about 14% of the clusters. Both shares have remained relatively constant over the past five years.
  • Multi-core processors represent the majority of systems shipped since 2006. For recent installations and upgrades, single-core processor share is now in the very low single digits. Four-core processors hold the greatest share, followed closely by six-core processors.
  • Memory usage per node and processor are growing at an exponential rate. Memory per core has remained relatively constant over the years. However, the dramatic increase in cores per processor is driving up memory requirements at the node level. This growth in memory requirements risks changing the cost equations for HPC nodes and affecting overall system design.
  • Accelerators are used on about 21% of the installed base, with on-node being the preferred configuration. Intersect360 Research believes that this technology is being evaluated at this time and may turn out to be an important component in future HPC systems.
There does not seem to be any big surprises in the above findings, however the detailed report may have more reveling data. Interestingly, "Accelerators" (i.e. GPUs) seem to be growing, however, an accelerator installed does not necessarily mean a an accelerator used. More data from the users side of things may help answer this question. Also, there now seems to be a "memory pressure" place on systems due to the growing number of cores in each generation of processor.

In case you were wondering which vendors were mentioned in this report, the following list was provided by Intersect360: Ace Computers, Advanced Clustering, Advanced HPC, Amazon, Angstrom, Apple, Appro, Aspen Systems, Atipa, Bull, ClusterVision, Cray, D.E. Shaw Research, Dell, E4 Computer Engineering, Fujitsu , HP, HPC System, IBM, Intel, Isilon, Linux Networx, Megware, Microway Technology, NEC, Netezza, Nvidia, OmniTech, Oracle, Penguin Computing, PSSC Labs, R Associates, Rackspace, SGI, Silicon Mechanics, Supermicro, Tibco, T-Platforms, V3Gaming, GPU-Xpander, VA Linux, and Western Scientific.

More information and An Executive Summary are on the Intersect360 website. Other reports in this series include: HPC User Site Census: Processors; HPC UserSite Census: Applications; HPC User Site Census: Interconnects/Networks; and HPC User Site Census: Storage.

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