Tuesday, 20 June 2017

ISC17 information overload - Tuesday afternoon summary

I hope you've been enjoying a productive ISC17 if you are in Frankfurt, or if not have been able to keep up with the ISC17 news flow from afar.

My ISC17 highlights blog post from yesterday ("Cutting through the clutter of ISC17: Monday lunchtime summary") seems to have collected over 11,000 page-views so far. Since this hpcnotes blog normally only manages several hundred to a few thousand page views per post, I'm assuming a bot somewhere is inflating the stats. However, there are probably enough real readers to make me write another one. So here goes - my highlights of ISC17 news flow as of Tuesday mid-afternoon.

Processor Competition

I understand that one active conversation topic at ISC17 is the increasing competition in the HPC processor space. Intel has enjoyed a dominance of market share with a very capable Xeon line recently (and has priced accordingly), but alternative processors that challenge Xeon on performance, price/performance, etc. are here now or arriving soon. The list includes AMD EPYC, IBM POWER, Cavium ThunderX2 (ARM based), plus GPUs from NVIDIA (Pascal or Volta) and AMD (Vega), plus Intel's own Xeon Phi (KNL). Tim Prickett-Morgan of The Next Platform looks at the CPU and GPU competition coming from AMD here: "AMD Winds Up One-Two Compute Punch For Servers".

I'm hearing that customers are considering non-Xeon based HPC deployments more seriously than at any time in the past few years, including a willingness to invest in the HPC software engineering effort often required to adopt new technologies. There has certainly been notably increased demand for NAG's HPC software engineering services to help customers test and port to KNL and GPUs over recent months.

Who has been noisy, who has been quiet?

It's only Tuesday, so there is more to come yet, and impressions on the floor will be different from my view from afar.

But, from what I can see from public activity at ISC17 and some private feedback, HPE has been making a strong claim to be seen as a supercomputing company (again?) (i.e., not just a server company). This is helped by the SGI pedigree now within the HPE walls, including the always inspiring Eng Lim Goh - "Dr. Eng Lim Goh on HPE’s Recent PathForward Award for Exascale Computing" - video interview with InsideHPC. We shouldn't pretend HPE has been missing from HPC for years - e.g., HPE has several large HPC systems in aerospace and oil & gas - but it is fair to say HPE has not been a loud voice in the high end of the HPC community until recently.

The usual suspects are also being noisy: NVIDIA (especially around their new fav topic of deep learning and, in my view, perhaps not enough noise about recent HPC successes); Intel (SKL, KNL, OmniPath, cloud, ... the machine rolls on); Cray (new petascale supercomputers in New Zealand, a Supercomputer-as-a-Service with Markley, and big data software for XC); and Atos (9 petaflops supercomputer at GENCI, new ARM based Sequana product).

The HPC market's own two analyst firms, Hyperion Research (formerly IDC) and InterSect360, have held (separate!) briefing sessions at ISC17 this week have updated their forecasts and analysis for the order $40bn HPC market and related sectors such as deep learning, hyperscale, etc. See "Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth" for HPC Wire's coverage of the Hyperion forecasts, and here for InterSect360's forecasts.

Who's been quiet? Well, either the media haven't got to publishing the stories yet, or the twitter accounts are muted, or there isn't much to say - but the usual raft of HPC center stories have been scarce so far this year. Clearly CSCS is getting attention for the number 3 spot on the Top500 list with the upgraded Piz Daint, TACC has announced the HPC Training Institute for Managers jointly with NAG, and a few others have issued stories, but I feel it has been quiet so far.


One thing that caught my eye, and that has inspired me to look out for similar stories was this announcement: "Verne Global Sets Strategic Roadmap to Manage Advanced Computing Requirements". Together with the Cray-Markely offering, this made me wonder if we will we see growth of offerings in this "middle ground" segment between in-house HPC and HPC-in-the-cloud. One to watch, I think.

Finally, ...

I'm not attending ISC17 myself, but several of my NAG colleagues are - please do stop by our booth J-616 and assure them I am thinking of them and their sore feet :-)

More tomorrow, until then, enjoy ISC17 and tonight's networking receptions.


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