|By Shai Fultheim||
|February 11, 2009 12:44 PM EST||
To understand where the High Performance Computing (HPC) paradigm is headed, it is useful to understand its history. High performance in computing comes from parallelism and faster and denser circuitry. Seymour Cray was a pioneer in this field and introduced the first production supercomputers in the 1960s (CDC 6600) and 1970s (Cray 1). Cray Research established the modern-day supercomputer architecture through multiprocessor (XMP) architecture and the vector processor. Other computer manufacturers adopted this architecture in the early 1980s.
It became evident with the advent of the modern microprocessor that clusters of microprocessors would challenge the dominance of vector supercomputers. In the second half of the 1980s, Encore and Sequent were building shared-memory systems that created a shared bus so that any of the microprocessors could access all of the memory in the system. By 2001, clusters and shared-memory systems based on microprocessors constituted 90% of the Top 500 machines, compared to 10% for vector-based machines.
The Beowulf project pioneered the idea of using cheap off-the-shelf hardware and software configured as a cluster of machines to build high-performance computers. By the early 2000s, this concept had become very successful in the industry, with the unification of public domain parallel tools (MPI programming model, PVM programming, parallel file system, tools to configure, manage parallel applications) and commercial applications for the scientific community. Cluster computing adopted commodity microprocessors (Intel) and the Linux operating system.
Today more than 70% of the newly installed HPC systems utilize commodity x86 clusters, with the remainder using shared-memory systems. Shared-memory systems have been losing out to clusters in HPC for a number of years, and this trend is driven by two factors. The advantage of cluster systems is the low initial acquisition cost of the hardware and absence of vendor lock-in. They are significantly cheaper and offer better performance than the large SMP systems that typically run on proprietary Unix platforms. Most commercial HPC applications today are designed to run on cluster infrastructures.
One interesting question one could ask is why there hasn't been a proliferation of x86-based shared-memory SMP systems to replace Unix-based SMP systems. It's driven by two factors. The first one is economic. Given the commoditization of x86 systems, innovation has suffered at the system level, given the lack of differentiation and low profit margins. The second reason pertains to the fact that the system-level companies have no control over the chip vendors and there's a significant mismatch between chip-level and system-level product and development lifecycles. The x86 architecture evolves according to Moore's Law and a new generation is spawned every 18 months, while it takes about three years to design a state-of-the art x86 SMP. This makes it very difficult for the system designers to plan or predict what type of chip will be available in three years time.
There's a downside to cluster computing. The disadvantage is the complexity of installation and ongoing management of the infrastructure, as well as the restrictions put on end users because of the programming model.
Installation & Ongoing Management Costs
These cluster solutions are significantly more expensive to deploy and manage compared to large server systems, requiring:
- OS per server: Higher OS deployment cost and complexity such as network boot or other centralized OS deployment techniques, resulting in a need for higher IT skill sets
- Solution for shared I/O: Providing the application with access to common storage requires a cluster file system, and SAN or NAS deployments. Achieving high-performance I/O with such solutions is still a work in progress in the marketplace today
- Application provisioning: Load-balancing and distributed resource management solutions are needed to accommodate proper scheduling and resource management
- Cluster interconnect: A dedicated network for intra-cluster communication is required to provide high bandwidth and low latency for application-level communication. This network is usually separate from the network the cluster uses to communicate with the outside world (such as users)
Besides complexity, cluster deployment poses two challenges at the application level:
- Programming model: A specific programming model is needed to accommodate the distributed nature of the computing resource. This is usually achieved via MPI programming. In-house or legacy code has to be modified to run on such systems.
- Lack of large memory footprint: Each processor can access only the "cluster" node's local memory, which is usually limited to keep the physical size (leveraging 1U systems) and the cost of the cluster to a minimum. This poses a significant challenge to applications that use large memory in some processing phases, requiring an additional system with a large amount of local memory for these application phases. This is usually referred to as "cluster head node," and requires additional programming efforts or application provisioning techniques to accommodate the need to run different application phases on different computing resources.
Aggregation: The New Virtualization Paradigm
Computing virtualization is a technique for hiding the physical characteristics of a compute resource from the operating system, applications, or end users interacting with that compute resource.
There are two types of computing virtualization paradigms in the market today:
- Server virtualization: A single physical server appears to function as multiple logical (virtual) servers. It could also be defined as partitioning.
- Desktop virtualization: The physical location of the PC desktop is separated from the user accessing the PC. The remotely accessed PC can be located at home, the office or the data center, while the user is located elsewhere. It could also be defined as remoting.
There is a new emerging, third kind of computing virtualization: high-end virtualization in which multiple physical systems appear to function as a single logical system. This virtualization paradigm is known as aggregation and it is basically the opposite of partitioning. The building blocks of this approach are the same x86 industry standard servers used in the scale-out (clustering) approach, preserving the low cost. In addition, by running a single logical system, customers manage a single operating system, and take advantage of large contiguous memory and unified I/O architecture.
Benefits of Aggregation
Large Memory System
For workloads that require a large contiguous memory, customers have traditionally used the scale-up approach. Aggregation provides a cost-effective alternative to buying expensive and large proprietary shared-memory systems for such workloads. It enables an application requiring large amounts memory to leverage the memory of multiple systems, and reduce the need to use a hard drive for swap or scratch space. Application runtime can be dramatically reduced by running simulations with in-core solvers or by using memory instead of swap for large-memory footprint models.
Aggregation thus provides a cost-effective virtual x86 platform with a large shared memory that minimizes the physical infrastructure requirements and can run both distributed applications, as well as applications requiring a large memory footprint at optimal performance on the same physical infrastructure.
Compute-Intensive, Shared-Memory Applications
For workloads that require a high core count coupled with shared memory, customers have traditionally used proprietary shared-memory systems. Aggregation provides a cost-effective x86 alternative to these expensive and proprietary RISC systems.
Aggregation technology combines memory bandwidth across boards, as opposed to traditional SMP or NUMA architecture where memory bandwidth decreases as the machine scales. This enables solutions based on aggregation technology to show close-to-linear memory bandwidth scaling, thereby delivering excellent performance for threaded applications.
Ease of Use
For workloads that otherwise require a scale-out approach, the primary value provided by aggregation technology is ease-of-use driven by having a single system to manage compared the complexities involved with managing a cluster. A single system removes the need for cluster file systems, cluster interconnect issues, application provisioning, and installation and update of multiple operating systems and applications. The use of one operating system instead of one per node, results in significant savings in time and money during installation, as well as on-going management costs.
Simplified I/O Architecture
I/O requirements for a scale-out model can be very complex and costly involving networked storage with accompanying costs related to additional HBAs and FC switch infrastructure. Aggregation technology consolidates each individual server's network and storage interfaces. I/O resource consolidation reduces the number of drivers, HBAs, NICs, cables, and switch ports, and all the associated maintenance overhead. The user needs fewer I/O devices to purchase, manage, and service with increased availability, resiliency, and runtime scalability of I/O resources.
Even in large cluster deployments in data centers, it makes sense to deploy aggregation, since fewer larger nodes mean less cluster complexity and better utilization of the infrastructure due to reduced fragmentation of the resources. An example can be found in the financial services industry, where organizations need to run hundreds or thousands of simulations at once. A common deployment model will involve hundreds of servers, where each will execute a few simulations. In this example, each cluster node is running a single application at 80% utilization. By using aggregation to create fewer larger nodes, every four aggregated systems can run another copy of the application, leveraging the underutilized resources and driving an additional 25% utilization.
The future of High Performance Computing is here and aggregation represents the next logical step forward on this journey for better performance, lower cost, and complexity. It addresses the fundamental limitation of clusters in that they perform poorly on applications that require large shared memory. It also addresses the fundamental barriers many technical computing customers face when adopting clusters due to the lack of appropriate IT skills to install and manage clusters. And it addresses the limitations of the traditional SMP systems of high cost and vendor lock-in.
Aggregation works well for compute-intensive applications (numerical and engineering simulations) and memory-intensive applications (very large modeling and business intelligence).
The benefits of this approach are cluster consolidation and infrastructure optimization (reducing the number of managed entities), improved utilization (reducing data center fragmentation), and physical infrastructure cost reduction (traditional SMP systems, unified I/O) as well as greener computing. The result is fewer systems to manage and a large shared-memory system at industry-standard cluster pricing.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 2, 2016 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,669
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 2, 2016 11:15 PM EST Reads: 848
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
Dec. 2, 2016 08:30 PM EST Reads: 4,965
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Dec. 2, 2016 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,553
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 2, 2016 06:45 PM EST Reads: 3,981
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 2, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,475
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Dec. 2, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 4,076
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Dec. 2, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 2,103
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Dec. 2, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,969
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Dec. 2, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 363
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 2, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 346
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Dec. 2, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,865
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 2, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 3,192
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Dec. 2, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,813
Dec. 2, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 2,084
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Dec. 2, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,837
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 2, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 240
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 2, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,472
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Dec. 2, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 428
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 2, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 1,607