Down to the Wire for Moore’s Law

One of the most popular sessions at last week’s ISC High Performance conference was titled "Scaling Beyond the End of Moore’s Law," which was a series of three talks that delved into some of the technology options that could reanimate computing after CMOS hits the wall sometime in the next decade. The subject’s popularity is unsurprising, given that the supercomputing digerati that attend this event are probably more obsessed with Moore’s two-year cadence of transistor shrinkage than any other group of people on the planet.

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Petaflop Club Closes in on 100 Members

In the latest TOP500 rankings, the number of supercomputers that reached a Linpack petaflop or more grew to 95 systems – nearly a fifth of the list. The number of such systems has been growing steadily since IBM’s Roadrunner broke the petaflop barrier in 2008. And while machines of this magnitude are still considered elite, hardly a month goes by now without a new system or two being deployed.

The Knights Landing Effect

With the launch of the Knight’s Landing Xeon Phi, Intel is hoping to capitalize on the unmet demand for an alternative to the GPU. The previous incarnations of Xeon Phi weren’t quite on par with their GPU counterparts in some significant ways, especially in the performance realm. But Knight’s Landing has made up a lot of lost ground in FLOPS, while offering the convenience of being able to run without the assist of a CPU host.

DOE Aims for 200 Petaflops in 2018

Multiple outlets are reporting that Oak Ridge National Lab’s (ORNL) Summit supercomputer, one of the three pre-exascale systems being developed for the Department of Energy under its CORAL program, will hit 200 petaflops when it becomes operational in two years. The implication is that the US is responding to the announcement of TaihuLight, the new Chinese supercomputer that captured the top spot on the latest TOP500 list. But the storyline here is a lot more nuanced than that.

China Races Ahead in TOP500 Supercomputer List, Ending US Supremacy

US supercomputing was dealt a couple of blows on Monday after the latest rankings of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world were announced during the opening to the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC). In the updated TOP500 list, China retained its leadership at the top with a new number one system, while also overtaking the United States in the number of total systems and aggregate performance. This is first time in the list’s history that the US did not dominate the TOP500 results in these latter two categories.

New Chinese Supercomputer Named World’s Fastest System on Latest TOP500 List

FRANKFURT, Germany; BERKELEY, Calif.; and KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—China maintained its No. 1 ranking on the 47th edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s top supercomputers, but with a new system built entirely using processors designed and made in China. Sunway TaihuLight is the new No. 1 system with 93 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the LINPACK benchmark.

Managing HPC Failures Takes Forethought

Things do go wrong. I was recently on a train journey from Liverpool to London. Normally a two-hour direct service, a flooded line resulted in a five-hour excursion, by which time the meeting had finished without me. At the time, with frequent information announcements, passable WiFi (paid), free drinks proactively distributed (water only), food available (paid), and most importantly, electricity sockets, the five hours passed with less distress than I might have expected in hindsight. The lesson is that when things go wrong, what matters is how they are dealt with.

Cavium to Buy QLogic for $1.36 Billion

Chipmaker Cavium is plopping down a cool billion, and then some, to acquire QLogic, a networking and storage specialist. With the deal, Cavium is hoping to expand its footprint in the datacenter and fill in certain holes in its portfolio.

Algorithmic Trading Pioneer Prepares to Shake Up Mexico’s Stock Market

Mexico City’s suburbs don't exactly conjure up images of New York’s financial district, but one young trader is looking to close that gap. Alberto Alonso, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, has created a supercomputing system that does the type of algorithmic trading more commonly associated with those on Wall Street. A story on Bloomberg’s news site describes how Alonso came to build his machine, and why he believes the algorithm he developed will be able “mint money” once the system goes into full production. More News

In Depth

Fujitsu Switches Horses for Post-K Supercomputer, Will Ride ARM into Exascale

ARM has been something of stealth architecture in the battle to unseat the x86 as the dominant platform for high performance computing systems. That lower profile changed this week at the ISC 2016 conference, where Fujitsu announced it would develop an ARM processor for its Post-K exascale supercomputer. But the effort promises to have much a wider impact on the HPC landscape than just a single system.

Intel Takes on NVIDIA with Knights Landing Launch

Intel’s much-awaited Knights Landing Xeon Phi processor is now being shipped in volume to OEMs and other system providers, who will soon be churning out HPC gear equipped with the new chip. And if there was any doubt, Intel made it clear that with Knights Landing, it would be going after the same set of HPC and deep learning customers that NVIDIA has been successfully courting with its Tesla GPU portfolio. The official launch of the new processor was announced at the ISC High Performance conference (ISC), which is taking place this week in Frankfurt.

China Tops Supercomputer Rankings with New 93-Petaflop Machine

A new Chinese supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, captured the number one spot on the latest TOP500 list of supercomputers released on Monday morning at the ISC High Performance conference (ISC) being held in Frankfurt, Germany.  With a Linpack mark of 93 petaflops, the system outperforms the former TOP500 champ, Tianhe-2, by a factor of three. The machine is powered by a new ShenWei processor and custom interconnect, both of which were developed locally, ending any remaining speculation that China would have to rely on Western technology to compete effectively in the upper echelons of supercomputing.

NVIDIA Unveils Pascal GPU for HPC Servers

NVIDIA used the opening of the ISC High Performance conference (ISC) on Monday to launch its first Pascal GPU targeted to high performance computing. The announcement follows on the heels of the introduction of the Pascal P100 at the GPU Technology Conference in April, a device which was aimed at the deep learning market. The new HPC GPU, however, differs from its deep learning sibling in some surprising ways.

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This Week in HPC

Knight's Landing and Pascal GPU Face Off at ISC and Fujitsu Surprises With ARM

Addison Snell and Michael Feldman discuss the top news items coming out of the ISC'16 conference.

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