This week Linux Magazine interviewed Don Becker to get his take on the HPC market today. Don was part of the motive force behind the beowulf movement, and is now head of the Scyld group at Penguin Computing. The article ends up reading a little bit like an advertorial for Penguin in the early parts, but there is some good stuff further in
LM: Moving to another hot topic (no pun intended). What is your view on GP-GPU computing?
DB: The first thing to remember is the design of video hardware is different than HPC hardware. For example, with video designs mistakes are gone in 1/60th of a second. Reliability issues are also important. That said, I think it is an interesting trend. As a company we have deployed big GPU based clusters and are now on the leading edge helping customers stand-up these types of systems. It has all the right elements for success, commodity hardware driven by the bulk market. It is fast, easy to get started, low cost of entry, and a low cost of learning. On the flip side, probably from too many years in the HPC industry, I have seen lot of attached processors none of which had long term traction. This could change the game but I’m still on the fence about it. As a company Penguin is more than hedging as we have a lot professional expertise this area.
Don goes on to talk about SSDs, the future of clouds in HPC, and the importance of paging and the impact that virtualization has on paging behavior
DB: There are both large pages (2 or 4 MByte pages) and giant pages (4 GByte pages). That is an exciting area. I think 4MB pages are sufficient for right now. But if we could do 4GB pages, just a handful of Gigabyte pages would solve the problem for large memory jobs and provide predictable execution time and minimal traffic to memory, that is traffic to help manage memory rather than user code memory.
It’s an interesting read.