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HPC entrepreneurs can build a Hollywood ending

Today Chris Aycock (figuratively) dropped by with an essay on forces shaping the HPC market’s product offerings. The bottom line? “Crap+1″ almost always sells better than “shiny new idea 1.0.” — Ed. Hollywood writers and producers often talk about “high concept,” which is a story idea that can be summarized in a few words and […]

HPC, market appeal, and stock prices

The overall tech stock market has been slightly up this year, but supercomputing pure-plays Cray and SGI are significantly down. Current shareholders may bemoan this schism and wonder why other investors are indifferent about this field. One opinion is that the high-performance technical computing market is so niche that it doesn’t generate enough buzz in […]

Will SaaS work in HPC?

Software-as-a-Service is useful for products that require network connectivity, such as email and instant messaging; just witness the popularity of Gmail and Meebo. Among enterprise customers, ERP/CRM applications hold some degree of promise, like Salesforce.com. So then the question is whether technical computing customers could use SaaS. The best example I can think of is […]

What is the benefit of domain-specific languages?

For starters, domain-specific languages make users more productive than general-purpose languages and give them more flexibility than a simple GUI. Consider what SQL gives to database managers, or Excel to finance professionals. And while C++ has features like polymorphism and operator overloading that allow for “syntactic sugar” in mathematics libraries, most engineers will prefer MATLAB […]

What is the best way to keep up on HPC news?

Staying informed in this market can be difficult given our niche position. However, there are a few sources that anyone in this field should most definitely be familiar with. First and foremost are the conferences, namely Supercomputing (SC). Held annually in the US, this monster get-together showcases all of the latest in research and development, […]

What is Duff's Device?

Duff’s Device is a loop-optimization technique for C code that relies on macros to unroll a repetitive task. The primary benefit of loop unrolling is reduce branching, which is one of the single most expensive operations in computing. While some branching is necessary for the cache, too much branching will actually break the memory hierarchy, […]

What is Parallel Knoppix?

Have you ever been in a position where you needed to run an MPI application a few times, but not enough times to justify buying your own cluster? Do you have access to a few PCs, but can’t or don’t want to install any software such as Condor on them? Then maybe you could use […]

What is Terracotta?

Terracotta is an open source distributed shared object facility for Java, which allows multithreaded applications to run on clusters with minimal changes. It works with existing application servers and other web platforms, which makes distributing application loads across multiple nodes (JVMs) straightforward. It performs thread synchronization and even thread migration transparently for the user. In […]

What is CPUShare?

CPUShare is a grid computing initiative that pays its participants for providing idle processing time. Unlike BOINC, the provider is selling his time rather than donating it. While there is no word on the actual revenue a seller could reasonably expect to earn, anyone considering this program should consider the cost of electricity for running […]

When will Ethernet be able to compete directly with InfiniBand's latency?

I received this question in reference to an article from a few months ago. My paper was about functionality instead of mere performance, though my comments regarding RDMA-based overhead should hint at how poor InfiniBand is for some applications. Many of the benchmarks out there assume that the memory region is being reused and that […]