Hengeveld: 5 Things to Learn About at SC11

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In this special guest feature, Intel’s John Hengeveld primes us for a great week at SC11.

Tomorrow morning, I leave for SC11 in Seattle. I will dive into an immersive experience of a long string of press events, parties, customer meetings, speeches, technical talks, birds of a feather sessions, demos and marketing pitches.

As everyone knows, Seattle is a suburb of Portland… So, if you want to know what to do in Seattle, just ask me.  You can visit Paul Allen’s EMP and Science Fiction museums near the space needle or walk down Pike Place market and watch the fish mongers throw fish.  The aquarium is fun as well. The food in this city is fantastic!  It’s almost as good as Portland.

That being said, the Conference is going to be a thrilling experience for me.  I am excited for what Intel has in store, and I am eager to hear what AMD will show.

Here are the top five things I want to learn about at the conference:

  1. New CPUs. AMD Interlagos and Intel Sandy Bridge are nearly here. I am personally eager to get to real products shipping to real customers.  Both Intel and AMD announced that we are shipping to HPC customers. The Top500 list should tell us a lot about what performance and performance efficiency will be for these new players. Will the performance be as expected? What more will we learn?   I dream of the not too distant future where I will experience the subtle joy of no longer adding “formerly known as Sandy Bridge” to “future Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 family”.
  2. New Big Systems and new systems across the Globe.  Last time, we got an announcement of the new Japanese super computer, just recently proven over 10PF.  Will we see any new systems in Europe and the US surging towards that same bar?  It’s a global game, and everybody is starting to ask what their supercomputing strategy is and should be.  Next year, I expect a wall of machines from most industrialized nations.  When will South America jump out on the list?  Africa?  This year, I will walk the show floor looking at the cornucopia to be.
  3. GPU vs Intel MIC part 4.  In June 2010, Intel announced its “Many Integrated Core” architecture and in June 2011 announced its Exascale commitment.  June 2010, NVidia announced Fermi and the debate ensued… What is the optimum path forward in highly parallel applications? Will we hear anything on Kepler? Will Jen-Hsun Huang give us guidance as to where accelerators are going? (Shameless plug: Huang went to the same high school as my kids. The 2010 Oregon Football Champion, Aloha High School Alum). What is the status of Intel’s Knight Corner product?
  4. PCIe3? I was surprised at ISC11 because I thought I would see more on PCIgen3 solutions in interconnect.  Mellanox announced in their quarterly earnings release some news on their solutions for Infiniband. What more will we see about future plans of players here?
  5. Technical Sessions:  Exascale Applications. What new papers will be written on the computer science of Exascale? How will complex models like weather, CFD, etc get broken down and simulated on the systems coming in the future?  For Exascale labs in Europe and the US that are deeply engaged in the computer science of Exascale, what more will we learn here that can help us anticipate architectural requirements and inflections?

I have friends from many companies across the industry.  I look forward to seeing them all, having a drink with them, and seeing where things are headed. I’ll get back to you after SC11 to see what information I come up with.