Addison Snell reviews SC08

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Addison Snell, blogging last week at HPCwire, with an analyst’s review of his time at SC08. Snell summarizes the momentum in InfiniBand and 10 GbE, but is really excited about optics

But neither of these developments is where I see the real action heating up over the next two years. The big trend to watch is now optics. Users in many verticals are expressing early interest in optical interconnects because of their potential in lowering latency. Avago, Finisar, Lightfleet, Luxtera, and Obsidian all had presences at SC08, and Tabor Research predicts we’ll continue to see more from them over the next two years.

Snell is also hearing a lot of interest in cloud computing, and saw some action on the floor

In this space, Arista made a splash by landing Silicon Valley visionary Andy Bechtolsheim, who is now championing that company’s cloud strategy. In addition, a little-known company called Darkstrand made a big impression with its commercialization of access to supercomputing resources over the National LambdaRail network. Even demos in The MathWorks’ booth showcased Amazon EC2. Cloud computing plays into the strengths of IBM and HP, the HPC server leaders, as well as Platform Computing, the leading middleware provider. Tabor Research expects these three companies to capitalize on the opportunity.

He also mentions pNFS, and points to Sun as the only compute vendor strategically positioned well for the move. He closes with a look at accelerator options and NVIDIA, with a salute to FPGAs and Convey Computer

Before you scoff, consider that FPGAs excel in areas in which GPGPUs have been weak, especially in scalable, high-bandwidth, text- or integer-based applications. This time around, programmability isn’t at issue, because vendors like Convey, BlueArc, and XtremeData have integrated FPGAs into their offerings.

Convey enjoyed a terrific launch, thanks in part to the combined experience of Bruce Toal and Steve Wallach. (An interview with Wallach hit The New York Times during the show.) The FPGA-powered design is a major departure in computing architectures, and Convey could quickly become an interesting second-tier player alongside SiCortex, another differentiated architecture player with a strong SC08 showing.


  1. “consider that FPGAs excel in areas in which GPGPUs have been weak”

    I think this is the major weak part!!

  2. and why you think it is Takis??.. Mind explaining to me!