Radio Free HPC Recaps SC19

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In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks back the “State Fair for Nerds” that was SC19. Where there weren’t any livestock shows or supercomputers carved out of butter, there was a lot to see and hear.

At this year’s conference, we not only learned the latest discoveries in our evolving field – but also celebrated the countless ways in which HPC is improving our lives … our communities … our world. So many people worked together to make SC19 possible – more than: 780 volunteers, 370 exhibitors, 1,150 presenters, and a record 13,950 attendees.


  • EPI. Shahin talks about the European Processor Initiative and conversations that he had with folks from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the quantum computing briefing by D-Wave, and a chat with Cold Quanta.
  • New Wager: We reiterate the bet between Henry and Dan, where Henry bets Dan that there will be a RISC-V based system on the TOP500 system by SC20. The stakes? The winner gets the dinner of his choice paid for by the loser.
  • SC19 Keynote: Jessi went to the keynote by Dr. Squires and notes that someone asked him “where did you use HPC systems in your project?” This prompts Jessi to ask us if it’s kosher to have keynotes which don’t necessarily hit directly on HPC. We discuss how there have been non-HPC centric keynote speakers at several SC events in the past….see Al Gore, Alan Alda, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc.
  • NVIDIA and Arm: Dan brings up the news from NVIDIA about how they’ve gathered a consortium of big-time industry players who will be working on adapting ARM processors for accelerated computing. They speculate on whether Fujitsu will be contributing their very sporty new ARM chip to the group, with thoughts of licensing it for use by other vendors. In other NVIDIA news, Azure now has eight GPU instances connected by InfiniBand interconnects.
  • Cybersecurity: Henry cites an article about how a small doctor and dental office service provider suffered a ransomware attack, which meant that the doctors they were managing archiving for could no longer get access to their records. If this can happen to service providers, it can run these smaller providers out of business as HIPPA regulations and fine are onerous. Dan comments that he only goes to vets for medical services (just like Kramer on Seinfeld).
  • Interconnects: In this installment, Jessi asks the panel about interconnects, why we need them, what they do, and what are your choices. Dan jumps in with discussing Ethernet and InfiniBand, while Henry jokingly brings up Token Ring. More helpfully, Henry discusses proprietary interconnects and things like RDMA and RoCE. Shahin believes he has the definitive answer, which is the start of his Computing 301 Lecture Series. This leads into a slight tangent where we discuss SMP vs. MPP and how coherency at scale is incredibly expensive.

After that, they do the Catch of the Week:

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