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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.

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.


A few pieces of news crossed my way recently. First, AMD has released the x86 Open64 Compiler Suite (binary and source). This is a free as in beer and in speech compiler suite that is the basis for the PathScale Compiler. AMD also provides a collection of libraries and HPC applications that can be built with the compiler (instructions on how to build the packages are provided.)

While we are talking about compilers. I also found a nice bullet point overview of OpenCL (pdf). If you recall OpenCL is a new language that is designed to be portable across GPU and CPU architectures. It even has a simple FFT example. As I have said in the past, things like CUDA, OpenCL, and BrookGPU are nice, but they don't cover the cluster computing model. And, it is step in the right direction.

Finally, here are two papers (pdf) that discuss using the cloud for HPC. They even include benchmarks! Take a look at Benchmarking Amazon EC2 for High-performance Scientific Computing and Can Cloud Computing Reach The TOP500?. Don't sell your cluster just yet.


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