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ImageI recorded Jeopardy last night because asking my wife to watch 2880 processors play Jeopardy against two humans rather than go out for a Valentine's Day dinner was probably not a good idea. I just finished watching the first day this morning. What follows are some thoughts and observations as the latest man vs machine contest unfolds.

I wanted to mention this earlier. This week on Jeopardy (CBS Network) the best human players will attempt to beat Watson, a 2880 core IBM Jeopardy computer. This is more than a chess match because in Jeopardy you must supply the question based on an answer. There is also plenty of wordplay in the categories and the answers themselves making it a particularly difficult problem for computers. Here is snippet from the CBS press release:

The first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011, with two matches being played over three consecutive days. The grand prize for this competition will be $1 million with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity, and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity.

There is a good write-up over at HPCwire. The Watson-Jeopardy challenge was the subject of a recent episode of Nova as well. Even more details are on the official Watson Page. My prediction: Watson all the way.

If Nikola could see us now!

Each year NVidia provides a "year in review" that I find very interesting. It is a good summary of the years events (of course from NVidia's's perspective), but none the less informative. Plus, there are plenty of links to facilitate further exploration. This years round-up follows.

Tesla - A Year in Review - 2010

The growth of GPU Computing in HPC has continued unabated this year with many new milestones achieved. Hard to believe that it's only been three and a half years since Tesla launched.

At the end of last year, we talked about how it felt like we had reached a "tipping point" with Tesla, a level at which momentum for change seemed unstoppable. If I had to find two words to summarize this year, I would say that it feels like Tesla has reached escape velocity, the required speed one needs to break free of a gravitational field, or in the case of Tesla, a stage of momentum where we're seeing a rapid increase in deployments and the question on many of our customers' lips is no longer "if" we deploy GPUs, it's "when".

Some help for the multi-core world: KNEM

The Open MPI Team has announced the release of Open MPI version 1.5. This release represents over a year of research, development, and testing. Open MPI uses a dual release cycle that includes a "super stable" (currently 1.4 series) and the recent "feature release" (1.5 series). The Open MPI release methodology is explained as follows:

  • Even minor release numbers are part of "super-stable" release series (e.g., v1.4.0). Releases in super stable series are well-tested, time-tested, and mature. Such releases are recommended for production sites. Changes between subsequent releases in super stable series are expected to be fairly small.
  • Odd minor release numbers are part of "feature" release series (e.g., v1.5.0). Releases in feature releases are well-tested, but they are not necessarily time-tested or as mature as super stable releases. Changes between subsequent releases in feature series may be large.

According to the team, The v1.5 series will eventually morph into the next "super stable" series, v1.6 at which time, they will start a new "feature" series (v1.7).

One feature of note in the 1.5 series is the inclusion of KNEM a Linux kernel module enabling high-performance intra-node MPI communication for large messages (i.e. to improve large message performance within a single multi-core node). KNEM is also used in MPICH2 (since version 1.1.1).

You can find both 1.4 and 1.5 series and full change log on the Open MPI website.


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