Monday 19 June 2017

Cutting through the clutter of ISC17: Monday lunchtime summary

ISC, the HPC community's 2nd biggest annual gathering, in fully underway in Frankfurt now. ISC week is characterized by a vibrant twitter flood (#ISC17), topped up with a deluge of press releases (a small subset of which are actually news), plus a plethora of news and analysis pieces in the HPC media. And, of course, anyone physically present at ISC, has presentations, meetings, and exhibitors further demanding their attention.

I go to ISC almost every year. It is a valuable use of time for anyone in the HPC community or who uses, or has an interest in, HPC even if they don't see themselves as part of the HPC community. However, I have decided not to attend ISC this year, due to other commitments. However, I will keep an eye on the "news" throughout the week and post a handful of summary blogs (like this one), which might be a useful catch-up on "news" so far, whether you are attending ISC or watching from afar.

The 500 fastest supercomputers (with many caveats ...)

The main news on day 1 (Monday) is always the release of the latest Top500 list of supercomputers. Or, at least, it seems to generate the most twitter comments, and most media articles on the first day. Sometimes the Top500 list has some big interest stories (e.g., a new Number 1 on the list). What about this year's ISC Top500 release?

CSCS in Switzerland got a truck full of GPUs, lifting their Cray supercomputer Piz Daint to the No3 spot on the list. In other Top500 news, every company or HPC center is now leading the Top500 (providing they are allowed to define their own metric or subset such that they "win").

Please read various summaries and analysis of the Top500 news here:
ISC17 also saw the announcement of many other x500 lists (Green500, HPCG500, Graph500, Green Graph500, IO500, ...) - I wonder if this is getting a bit silly. But in the spirit of joining in, I propose the HPCpeople500 (ranked by how many HPC staff a site has), the MW500 (ranked by power consumed by HPC systems at a site: more MW = higher on list), and the Codes500 (ranked by how many supported codes are installed on the system).

Other news (apart from the Top500)

ISC itself continues to make records - 3200 attendees from 60 countries.

A splurge of product announcements have been made (press releases). See HPC Wire "off the wire" for the best list of most of the press releases, InsideHPC "Recent News" for a selection of the press releases and other show news, and Top500 "News" for a selection of the announcements. I'll present my own selection of the most important ISC announcements, along with my comments, in a later blog today.

One likely discussion point at ISC will be around which processor option is best. Intel offers Skylake (SKL) and Knights Landing (KNL), AMD suggests EPYC and Vega (GPU), NVidia insists on P100 or maybe even V100 GPUs, IBM whispers Power, ARM promises various options (e.g., Cavium ThunderX2).

Some analysis of the KNL vs SKL options has been published by The Next Platform: "Knights Landing Can Stand Alone—But Often Won’t".

I made some cautions on this debate in my recent webinar "Dissecting the myths of Cloud and GPUs for HPC" (register here for a recorded video). etc

Enjoy the afternoon at ISC - I'll be back with more summary and comment later. In the meantime, you can follow my thoughts on twitter: @hpcnotes.

>> see the day 2 summary here: "ISC17 information overload - Tuesday afternoon summary".

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