On the Ground at SC14: Fellow Traveler Companies

Let’s talk about Fellow travelers at SC14 – companies that Intel is committed to collaborating with in the HPC community. In addition to the end-user demos in the corporate booth, Intel took the opportunity to highlight a few more companies in the channel booth and on the Fellow Traveler tour.

Intel is hosting three different Fellow Traveler tours on Discovery, Innovation, and Vision. A tour guide leads a small group of SC14 attendees through the show floor to visit eight company booths (with a few call outs to additional Fellow Travelers along the way). Yes, you wear an audio headset to hear your tour guide. And yes, you follow a flag around the show floor. On our 30 minute journey around the floor, my Discovery tour visited (official stops are bolded):

  • Supermicro: Green/power efficient supercomputer installation at the San Diego Supercomputer Center
  • Cycle Computing: Simple and secure cloud HPC solutions
  • ACE Computers: ACE builds customized HPC solutions, and customers include scientific research/national labs/large enterprises. The company’s systems handle everything from chemistry to auto racing and are powered by the Intel Xeon processor E5 v3. Fun fact, the company’s CEO is working on the next EPEAT standard for servers.
  • Kitware: ParaView (co-developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory) is an open-source, multi-platform, extensible application designed for visualizing large data sets.
  • NAG: A non-profit working on numerical analysis theory, they also take on private customers and have worked with Intel for decades on tuning algorithms for modern architecture. NAG’s code library is an industry standard.
  • Colfax: Offering training for parallel programming (over 1,000 trained so far).
  • Iceotope: Liquid cooling experts, their solutions offer better performance/watt than liquid and air cooling hybrid.
  • Huawei: Offering servers, clusters (they’re Intel Cluster Ready certified) and Xeon Phi coprocessor solutions.
  • Obsidian Strategics: Showcasing a high-density Lustre installation.
  • AEON: Offering fast and tailored Lustre storage solutions in a variety of industries including research, scientific computing and entertainment; they are currently architecting a Lustre storage system for the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
  • NetApp: Their booth highlighted NetApp’s storage and data management solutions. A current real-world deployment includes 55PB of NetApp E-Series storage that provides over 1TB/sec to a Lustre file system.
  • Rave Computer: The company showcased the RT1251 flagship workstation, featuring dual Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 series with up to 36 cores and up to 90MB of combined cache. It can also make use of the Intel Xeon Phi co-processor for 3D modeling, visualization, simulation, CAD, CFD, numerical analytics, computational chemistry, computational finance, and digital content creation.
  • RAID Inc: Demo included a SAN for use in big data, running the Intel Enterprise Edition of Lustre with OpenZFS support. RAID’s systems accelerate time to results while lowering costs.
  • SGI: Showcased the SGI ICE X supercomputer, the sixth generation in the product line and the most powerful distributed memory system on the market today. It is powered by the Intel Xeon processor E5 v3 and includes warm water cooling technology.
  • NCAR: Is answering the question, how do you refactor an entire climate code. NCAR, in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder is an Intel Parallel Computer Center aiming to develop tools and knowledge to help with the performance improvements of CESM, WRF, and MPAS on Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors.

Intel Booth – Fellow Traveler Tours depart from the front right counter

After turning in my headset, I decided to check out the Intel Channel Pavilion next to Intel’s corporate booth. The Channel Pavilion has multiple kiosks (so many that they switched halfway through the show), each showcasing a demo with Intel Xeon and/or Xeon Phi processors, and highlighting a number of products and technologies. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Aberdeen: Custom servers and storage featuring Intel Xeon processors
  • Acme Micro: Solutions utilizing the Intel Xeon processor and Intel SSD PCIe cards
  • Advanced Clustering Technologies: Clustered solutions in 2U of space
  • AIC: Alternative storage hierarchy to achieve high bandwidth and low latency via Intel Xeon processors
  • AMAX: Many core HPC solutions featuring Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 and Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors
  • ASA Computers: Einstein@Home uses an Intel Xeon processor based server to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars
  • Atipa Technologies: Featuring servers, clustering solutions, workstations and parallel storage
  • Ciara: The Orion HF 620-G3 featuring the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3
  • Colfax: Colfax Developer Training on efficient parallel programming for Xeon Phi coprocessors
  • Exxact Corporation: Accelerating simulation code up to 3X with custom Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor solutions
  • Koi Computers: Ultra Enterprise Class servers with the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 and a wide range of networking options
  • Nor-Tech: Featuring a range of HPC clusters/configurations and integrated with Intel, ANSYS, Dassault, Simula, NICE and Altair
  • One Stop Systems: The OSS 3U high density compute accelerator can utilize up to 16 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and connect to 1-4 servers

The Intel Channel Pavilion

Once completing the booth tours, I decided to head back to the Intel Parallel Computing Theater to listen to a few more presentations on how companies and organizations are putting these systems into action.

Joseph Lombardo, from the National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment stopped by the theater to talk about the new data center they’ve recently put into action, as well as their use of a data center from Switch Communications. The NSCEE has a couple of challenges – massive computing needs (storage and compute power); time sensitive projects (those with governmental and environmental significance) and numerous and complex workloads. In their Alzheimer’s research, the NSCEE compares the genomes of Alzheimer’s patients with those of normal genomes. They worked with Altair and Intel on a system that reduces their runtime from 8 hours to 3 hours, while improving system manageability and extensibility.

Joseph Lombardo from the NSCEE

Then I listed in to Michael Klemm from Intel talking about offloading Python to the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor. Python is a quick and high productivity language (packages include: iPython, Numpy/SciPy, and Pandas) that can help compose scientific applications. Michael talked through design principles for the pyMIC offload infrastructure: Simple usage, slim API, fast code and keep control in a programmer’s hand.

Michael Klemm from Intel

Wolfgang Gentzsch from UberCloud covered HPC for the Masses via cloud computing. Currently more than 90% of an engineer or scientist’s in-house HPC is completed via workstations and 5% via servers. Less than 1% is completed using HPC Clouds, which offers a ripe opportunity if challenges like security/privacy/trust, control of data (where and how is your data running), software licensing, and the transfer of heavy data can be resolved. There are some hefty benefits – pay per use, easily scaling resources up or down, low risk with a specific cloud provider – that may start to entice more users shortly. UberCloud has 19 providers and 50 products currently in their marketplace.

Wolfgang Gentzsch from UberCloud

The Large Hadron Collider is probably tops on my list of places to see before I die, so I was excited to see Niko Neufeld from LHCb CERN talk about their data acquisition/storage challenge. I know, yet another big data problem. But the LHC generates one petabyte of data EVERY DAY. Nikko talked through how they’re able to use some sophisticated filtering (via ASICS and FPGA) to get that down to storing 30PB a year, but that’s still an enormous challenge. The team at CERN is interested in looking at the Intel OmniPath Architecture to help them move data faster, and then integrating Intel Xeon + FPGA with Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors to help them shave off the amount of data stored even more.

Niko Neufeld from LHCb CERN

And finally, the PUCC held matches 4 and 5 today, the last of the initial matches and the first of the playoffs. In the last regular match, Taji took on the Examen and, in a stunning last-second “make” run, the Examen took it by a score of 4763 to 2900. In the afternoon match, the Brilliant Dummies took on the Gaussian Elimination Squad (defending champs). It was a hard fought battle – for many of the questions both teams had answered before the multiple choice possibilities were shown to the audience. In the end, the Brilliant Dummies were able to eliminate the defending champions by a score of 5082 to 2082. Congratulations to the Brilliant Dummies, we’ll see you in the final on Thursday.

We’ll see the Brilliant Dummies in the PUCC finals on Thursday