The last time we spoke to the folks at Convey, they were grinning ear to ear over the $24 million in Series B funding that they had successfully brought in house. According to Convey CEO Bruce Toal, one of the first orders of business with the influx in funding was to tool up and begin shipping production units to customers.
This was not what we had expected to hear at the time. Convey officially unveiled their technology at SC08 to quiet fanfare. At this stage in their lifetime, typical startups would be heavily focused on developing internal engineering talent, marketing collateral, and fine tuning their product features. But then, Convey is not the typical tech startup.
First customers: how about Stanford, LBNL, and ORNL?
Fast on the heels of several exciting press releases today, Convey pulled us aside and gave us the low-down on several customer deliveries of production units. We figured we would hear some reasonable but small customer success stories, as one usually does from a startup at this stage. Again, not Convey.
These folks are coming out swinging. Convey told us today that they have added Stanford, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as HC-1 customers. “These high-profile customer installations underscore the traction that Convey is gaining in the high-performance computing market,” said Bruce Toal, CEO and president of Convey Computer Corp. “The decision by three of the world‘s most recognized scientific think-tanks to utilize Convey‘s HC-1 computers as they undertake some of today‘s most advanced research projects is exciting and gratifying for our young company and supports our hybrid-core technology.”
Stanford Center of Computational Earth and Environmental Science
First out of the gate is the Stanford Center of Computational Earth and Environmental Science (CEES). The researchers at CEES are planning to use their HC-1 to develop new seismic-imaging and reservoir simulation algorithms. The research is a part of a new consortium called the Stanford Earth Sciences Algorithms and Architectures Initiative. Among the main goals for the research, the group will be evaluating modern HPC architectures for applied Earth Sciences algorithms.
“High performance computing has entered a period of rapid change that brings opportunities for huge performance gains,” said Dr. Biondo Biondi, co-director of the Stanford Exploration Project and one of the Initiative‘s principal investigators. “Convey‘s hybrid-core computing shows promise of achieving impressive performance using high-level programming languages and standard programming environment. We are looking forward to working with and testing this innovative system.”
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab will utilize the HC-1 in simulating new computer architectures and approaches to developing more energy-efficient systems. Despite their “energy” charter, the DOE has also been deeply involved in many aspects of next-generation climate science. Much of the architecture research performed on the HC-1 will be specifically geared towards climate applications at unprecedented resolutions. The LBNL researchers are also studying how the HC-1 can assist in solving bioinformatics workloads such as graph algorithms for gene cluster analyses.
“Energy efficiency has become a first-order design constraint for future systems. We really don‘t see the current path of scaling up conventional hardware as sustainable either in terms of the initial hardware cost or the price of powering such systems over its lifetime,” said Dr. John Shalf, head of Berkeley Lab‘s Science-Driven Systems Architecture team. “The HC-1 presents an
intriguing alternative approach to achieving energy-efficient computing using an architecture that can adapt to the requirements of the science problem. We are looking forward to getting our hands on the system to assess all aspects of its scientific computing capability.”
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The final, late-breaking, customer announcement was Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL has emerged as a real user-land superpower in the HPC universe. They are planning to utilize the HC-1 for a variety of mission-critical programs. Given the scope of ORNL’s research, the workloads will span the full gambit of science, including: nuclear energy, climate modeling, national security and infrastructure. This is quite a win for Convey. Not only does ORNL contain specific scientific discipline champions, but they have the computational architecture talent to squeeze every ounce of performance out of any given platform. They are great folks to have banging on your system.
“We chose the HC-1 as a lead development platform for many of the elements expected to take us into the next decade in focused performance, power-efficient systems and productivity of proposed future systems. The team backing the HC-1 has a proven track record in innovation and bringing ‘ease of use to the broader HPC community. The system is designed to have a very
modular suite of reconfigurable components allowing the HC-1 system(s) to act as specialized components of an overall larger design. We will be able to evaluate new algorithms, optimize old algorithms and design new systems and architectures from the first principles point of view. The HC-1 will be an integrated part of the newly formed Hybrid Multi-Core Consortium,” said Dr. Jeffrey Nichols, associate laboratory director for Computing and Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
(Roughly) 25 machines shipped. What’s next?
According to Toal, the company is going strong following the Series B funding. They’ve shipped roughly 25 HC-1 machines to around 10 different customers. He specifically noted that several of their customers asked to remain anonymous due to the significant speedups they were achieving in their respective areas of expertise.
The Series B has assisted them in beginning to develop a global sales and service footprint. The Richardson, Texas office is bustling with the 48 employees (up from 35 the last time we spoke) that now make up the operations at Convey. They have officially deployed HC-1 Personalities in life sciences, speech recognition, electrical design automation and financial services, with several more planned for early 2010.
The future? The Toal-Brewer-Wallach tri-fecta is tight lipped about any further customer deliveries and future architecture plans. However they did in two years what the industry at large has failed to do in a decade: deliver a pure hybrid computing platform. Definitely a company to watch.