Hengeveld: SC12 – A Path to Discovery, Changing Course through Outer Space

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In this special guest feature, Intel’s John Hengeveld looks ahead to the SC12 conference.

The HPC industry is driving fast down a familiar road. SC12 represents a sharp turn for the industry. We are going to see inflection point in Salt Lake City in a few dimensions. I am beyond excited by the dynamics of this industry today.

Let me share what I am looking for:

In the past year, Big Data has emerged as a premier investment in business and academia. The use of HPC in the analysis of Big Data and how Big Data technology is going to evolve beyond Hadoop is going to be a major topic of discussion in the sessions and in the industry. How will storage change? How will compute change? How will this increased data bandwidth requirement be reflected in emerging interconnect models? I expect to find answers to these questions at SC12.

The top 10 supercomputers will be very interesting this time around. There has been relatively little change in the past 2 lists in the top10. It will be fascinating to see if there is a lot of change. How high up will the Titan monster go? What efficiency will it achieve? What other new systems will there be in the top 10? One very well informed person said to me in Hamburg “This top500 list is the last gasp of the dying blue gene architecture…” Is he right? Will BlueGene resurge? Or will hybrid architectures begin to retake a leadership role?

In the past year, there has emerged two competing groups are developing solutions for programming highly parallel compute devices. NVidia’s OpenACC has split off an approach to address GPU Computing and is trying to establish a competing standard to OpenMP. OpenMP last week announced its draft approach for targeting directives that support CPU, GPU and highly parallel CPU’s like Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors. Very serious people are supporting each approach; Intel is supporting OpenMP 4.0, of course. Some people are trying to support both. It will be interesting to see how heavily NVidia hawks their approach.

What will the industry say about Intel® Xeon Phi products? In June, Intel announced this branding for products for the now famous Intel® Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture. Is the industry moving these products into reality? What is the time table? What are the products? How many people are taking this architecture approach seriously?

We have seen some announcements about SGI and Cray new architectures leading up to SC12. What will we hear more about them? How will the major OEMs respond? Cray just went live with their press release on Cascade (X30). Looking forward to event that announces it.. and of course the Cray Party.

What is happening in the storage world in support of HPC and Big Data? What about any new technologies to help improve IO bandwidth?
Are there any new approaches for the missing middle? – Lots of hype so far – where are the proof points and examples?

The industry is going a thousand miles an hour towards exascale and deep Petascale. But it’s a bit cloudy and just how the path will change ahead is unclear. In about a week I think we’ll know where we’re going.

Editor’s note: insideHPC would like to send out condolences to John Hengeveld and his family. His wife Jen’s brother died in a tragic car accident this week. If you see her with John at SC12 next week, he says to be sure to give her a hug.