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Sylabs Startup forms Commercial Entity behind Singularity for HPC

Today an HPC Startup called Sylabs entered the market to provide solutions and services based on Singularity, an open source container technology designed for high performance computing. Founded by the inventor and project lead for Singularity, Sylabs will license and support Singularity Pro, an enterprise version of the software, and introduce it to businesses in the enterprise and HPC commercial markets.

Already the container platform of choice by academia and commercial HPC centers, Singularity’s features also make it the ideal container technology for artificial intelligence, machine / deep learning, compute-driven analytics, and data science — areas that we characterize as enterprise performance computing, or EPC,” said Gregory Kurtzer, founder and CEO of Sylabs. “These applications carry data-intensive workloads that demand HPC-like resources, and, as more companies leverage data to support their businesses, the need to properly containerize and support those workflows has grown substantially.”

While most container platforms are designed for microservices, Singularity was designed for HPC and scientific use cases. Founded in late 2015, Singularity is now in its 13th release (version 2.4.2) and runs over a million containers a day, via the Open Science Grid alone (a consortium that provides distributed computing resources for scientific research). According to a voluntary registry, it has an estimated user base of more than 25,000 spread around the world at major universities and government institutions including Stanford University, the National Institutes of Health, San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, as well as multiple US national labs.

The features that facilitated Singularity’s growth appeal to scientists as well as system providers. Some of these include:

  • Security: Unlike other container technologies, Singularity enables users to run containers without the security implications of granting users control of a root-owned daemon process or kernel features which do not exist in legacy operating systems
  • Single File Format: Singularity containers consist of a single file (SIF) that encapsulates the runtime environment. Benefits of this format enable extreme user mobility, security controls compliance, archive, reproducibility and trust via cryptographic signing of the runtime container
  • Support for high performance hardware: Singularity supports GPUs, Infiniband, and Intel Phi natively which are necessary resources for accelerating HPC and enterprise computing workloads
  • Compatibility: Singularity is compatible with Docker Hub and, when applicable, direct host IO and integrates seamlessly with resource managers, Message Passing Interface (MPI), batch job workflows, etc.

Singularity was designed for native use on GPUs, which enables users to go beyond microservices enterprise deployments and create “build once, run anywhere” applications that move seamlessly between HPC, enterprise, and cloud resources.

Sylabs remains committed to the open source community. All of its development efforts and engagement of the community will reside in the public GitHub repository for Singularity. Starting today, the company will make commercially available Singularity Pro, which will be available via a subscription license.

Sylabs has completed a seed round of funding. It is privately funded by RStor Inc., a startup in stealth mode.

For more information, check out the Sylabs Blog.

In this video from the 2017 HPC Advisory Council Stanford Conference, Greg Kurtzer presents: Singularity: Containers for Science, reproducibility, and HPC.

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