|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
Apr. 28, 2017 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,365
@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 Analytic. 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.
Apr. 28, 2017 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,383
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Apr. 28, 2017 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,472
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.
Apr. 28, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,248
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
Apr. 28, 2017 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,162
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Apr. 28, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,690
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Apr. 28, 2017 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,650
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...
Apr. 28, 2017 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,394
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Apr. 28, 2017 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,511
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Apr. 28, 2017 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,754
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
Apr. 28, 2017 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 709
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Apr. 28, 2017 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,270
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Apr. 28, 2017 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 860
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Apr. 28, 2017 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 857
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software in the hope of capturing value in IoT. Although IoT is relatively new in the market, it has already gone through many promotional terms such as IoE, IoX, SDX, Edge/Fog, Mist Compute, etc. Ultimately, irrespective of the name, it is about deriving value from independent software assets participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution.
Apr. 28, 2017 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 640
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Apr. 28, 2017 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,139
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
Apr. 28, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,224
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Apr. 28, 2017 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,628
Apr. 28, 2017 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,437
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Apr. 28, 2017 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,460