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From Ct to InfiniBand, The inside Scoop from SC09

A new year is upon us, but wait, I’m not done with the old one yet!

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Before we jump with both feet into 2010, I want to finish up some issues from 2009. I still have more video footage from SC09 to post and discuss. Indeed, it may take me most of this month to finish up the video. Not to worry, it is still newsworthy and relevant to the coming year.

Lets begin with a talk Jeff Layton and I had with Jim Reinders of Intel. Intel’s web page gives his title as “Director Software Products and Multi-core Evangelist, Intel Corporation.” I can say that Jim fills that role quite well. The conversation was quite informative. One of the main topics is the Intel Ct language.

If you have never heard of Ct, then allow me to provide a little background. As you know, there are two hardware trends in HPC. The first is multi-core computing. While this presents some issues, it still has the advantage that it provides some level of homogeneity i.e. all the cores are the same. The latest trend is heterogeneous computing where there are special purpose cores available for data parallel computations i.e. GP-GPU’s.

The heterogeneous hardware trend is upon us and will continue to offer “interesting” hardware to the HPC market. As an example, consider AMD Fusion and the recent introduction of the
Arrandale and Clarkdale
processors. The era of heterogeneous computing is here and the dividends can be huge for HPC. One of the hold-backs, however, is the software issue. No one wants to create code that only works on one family or type of architecture. Right now the GP-GPU hardware possibilities include NVidia and AMD/ATI. Many expect Intel to have a competing GP-GPU in the future (Although the mass market Larrabee has been delayed.) Combined with a multi-core CPU, which requires a new programming paradigm as well, the GP-GPU (a.k.a Data Parallel Processing Unit) has created a new level of software questions.

Intel is well aware of this situation and if you listen to what Jim has to say, you will see why Ct may be a significant step in the right direction. In addition, Intel’s acquisition of Rapidmind. I’ll leave the rest for the video. There is also some MPI news at the end. If you want to track Ct progress and other Intel software developments you can follow Jims Blog as well.

I also had the chance to talk with Hitesh Chellani and Anand Babu who help bring us the Gluster filesystem. Although Gluster is a recent entry in the filesystem market, they have made quite a big splash with many HPC users. They also use an Open Source model for their software. I’ll let them tell the Gluster story in the video.

While on my travels at the SC show, I like to stop in to visit some of the pioneer companies. One such company is Microway. For those who can remember, Microway brought us HPC hardware that used everything from Inmos Transputers to Intel i860 processors. They know HPC and Richard Warner gave me the quick overview of what is new at Microway.

Our final stop is Qlogic the makers of high speed InfiniBand interconnects. One of the things I like about the current HPC market is that there is a true competitive landscape in the world of high performance interconnects. Ultimately we all benefit as companies push the limits of the technology. I’ll let Qlogic’s Steve Zivanic take it from here.

That is all for this week. I’ll have another batch of videos next week. I’m sure many of you have the same reaction my 16 year old daughter does when she sees the videos on YouTube, “Dad is that you? I’m telling Mom”.

Douglas Eadline is the Senior HPC Editor for linuxdlsazine.

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