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SC12: Student Cluster Challenge Apps: Something for Every Wonk PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 November 2012 12:00

The apps for this year’s edition of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition are the typical mix of HPC workloads, chosen to represent a range of scientific disciplines and computational challenges. In order to drink deeply from the chalice of victory student teams will need to crawl inside each of the apps, find the bottlenecks, and figure out how to work around them – or make them less bottlenecky. (Note: there is no actual chalice of victory in the Student Cluster Competition. But there should be, don’t you think?)

Here are the scientific apps that the students will be wrestling with this year in Salt Lake City:

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SC12: Field of Dreams PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 November 2012 00:00

It’s November, which can mean only one thing for computer sports enthusiasts: it’s time for another Student Cluster Competition. The seventh edition of this annual event begins in about two weeks at the SC12 conference in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. The competition pits teams of university undergrads against each other in a marathon battle to prove that they can design, build, and run the fastest (and most efficient) cluster.

There are two different tracks in the competition this year. The first is the traditional  ‘build your own hardware’ big iron track in which students design, build, and optimize their own clusters. The second track is a new pilot competition: teams are issued the same hardware (a six-node, Atom-based LittleFE cluster in a box) and challenged to wring the most performance out of it. This article discusses the big iron track; I’ll take a look at the LittleFe competition in an upcoming story.

For the big iron competition, the rules are pretty simple. Each team is composed of six undergraduate students, typically from a single university. The teams design and build their own clusters, getting equipment from one or more sponsors. They can use any hardware or software that’s available on the market and that they can wheedle out of their sponsors. The only limit on their systems is that they can’t draw more than a total of 26 amps of juice.

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Radio Free HPC, Episode 13: Melting Amazon's Glacier PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 22 October 2012 00:00

Today’s podcast features a sleep-deprived, rage-fueled Henry Newman assailing Glacier, Amazon’s cloud archive and backup offering.

Amazon is pitching Glacier as a solution for customers who don’t need frequent access to their data and can handle retrieval times of several hours. The big enticements are low, low cost – as little as a penny per gigabyte per month – and durability.

Dan and Henry weed through each facet of Amazon’s marketing claims and – well – rip each one to shreds. Henry thinks this is aimed at the unsuspecting/unfortunate home or small business consumer, as anyone with technology expertise will run far, far away from Glacier. Dan compares it to the “Roach Motel” of storage: once you’re in, you can never get out. And don’t even get them started on the definition of “durable.”

Viewer tip: keep an eye on the “consecutive hours awake” timer at the bottom of the screen.

You can also read Henry’s blog on the topic here.

Check the Radio Free HPC website for new episodes and more great content from Rich Brueckner of insideHPCHenry Newman of Instrumental, Inc., and GCG's Dan Olds.

 

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Power and Cooling the Oak Ridge Way PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 00:00

You think you have power and cooling issues? Slip into the shoes of Arthur ‘Buddy’ Bland, Project Director for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and learn how they keep one of the largest computing facilities in the world powered up, yet cool enough to prevent melting. In this Register HPC Channel webcast, Dan Olds talks with Buddy about how Oak Ridge designs their data centers and systems to make the most of the power they consume.

Oak Ridge is one of the world’s most efficient large data centers, with a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) score of 1.25. PUE is a measure of data center efficiency: the total power going into the building is compared to the amount of juice consumed by IT gear. They also discuss efforts to help improve how the rest of the industry measures power consumption, and how Oak Ridge plans to bring down their PUE even further. It involves a lake and a fair amount of pipe...

 

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The "Small" Knob Won't Work Forever: chips and brick wall destined to meet PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 00:00

While at IBM’s Smarter Computing Summit last week at the tony Pinehurst golf resort, I had the great pleasure of hearing IBM’s Bernie Meyerson talk about limits to today’s tech, and the associated implications. Bernie is IBM’s VP of Innovation and one of the rare technologist/scientist types who can clearly and directly explain highly technical concepts in a way that they can be understood by a reasonably intelligent grey squirrel (and me too).

Even better, he’s highly entertaining and doesn’t hedge when it comes to stating what’s what in the world. Back in 2003 he predicted that Intel would never deliver on their fast CPU (4-5 Ghz) promises and would, in fact, be forced to shift to multi-core processors.

Meyerson backed up his brash prediction (it was plenty brash back then) by sharing electron microscope images of individual atoms that showed they’re kind of lumpy. The problem with lumpy atoms is that when you use only a handful of them to build gates, they leak current like a sieve. When asked about this, Intel denied, denied, denied, that there was a problem – right up to the point when they announced they were scrapping their entire product strategy in favor of a multi-core approach.

So when Meyerson talks, I pay attention. And Meyerson is talking again.

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