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Radio Free HPC: FPGAs and Stuff PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 18:54

In this episode of Radio Free HPC, Rich, Dan, and Henry discuss the recent buzz surrounding FPGAs. After being sidelined by accelerators, they’re increasingly being used in appliances.

Big vendors are talking about FPGAs not only for appliances but for general-purpose systems as performance assists. Are we headed back to the future?
The guys discuss the ins and outs of FPGAs and why, in some cases, they could be a huge win for the organizations that implement them.

But is the architecture flexible enough? For enterprise and Big Data, perhaps it is. If you need to perform the same algorithms over and over again, FPGAs could be a perfect fit.

As with all things tech, there are a few cautionary notes to be sounded. Amassing more and more appliances can lead down a tricky road. Will their use in workload-optimized systems lead to vendor lock-in? Can you really teach an old FPGA new tricks? And can they be weaponized?

Most importantly: how are servers like cattle? Tune in to find out…

Check the Radio Free HPC website for new episodes and more great content from Rich Brueckner of insideHPC, Henry Newman of Instrumental, Inc., and GCG's Dan Olds.

 

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ASC13: Shanghai Smackdown PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 18:18

The first annual Asia Student Cluster Challenge (ASCC) culminates this week with a final round of competition that brings ten university teams to Shanghai for a live cluster-off. Learn about the challenge and meet the teams here, and join the conversation at studentclustercomp.com.

 

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GTC 2013: Audi Drives Auto Technology; Steers course for safety/convenience PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00

Do you hate driving in the city? Do you fly into a rage when you can’t find a parking spot after spending hours in heavy traffic on the way to your destination? Do you have trouble deciphering SatNav directions while paying attention to your surroundings? Or do you get easily distracted while driving and become a safety threat to all around you? Does the fact that your car can’t predict the future piss you off?

Audi, along with US-based research universities, has been studying just such problems. They provided a peek at their findings and solutions at the recently concluded GTC 2013 show in San Jose. The first finding is that more than 80% of the US population lives in some sort of urbanized area – a 12% increase over the last decade or so. City driving has become more difficult, and most accidents happen in cities – although, in the US at least, rural accidents account for most fatalities.

Audi also found that driver frustration and distraction play a large role in both urban and rural accidents. (I think they’d classify the “driving with their head up your ass” driver as “distracted.”) They did deep research into this topic, breaking accident statistics down into twelve categories such as “forward into decelerating object,” “road depart right/left,” “sideswipe left/right,” etc. These findings and others shaped their solution: “Audi Urban Intelligent Assist.”

The guys from Ingolstadt (Audi HQ) did a good job of laying out their vision for future Audi drivers. It starts, modestly enough, by giving Audi vehicles the ability to predict the future. They’ll also be personalizing cars for individual drivers, improving controls, and providing systems that give more and better automated assistance. These are great goals, but what do they really mean when the rubber meets the road?

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GTC 2013: 63 TFLOP/s in 3U? Like a clown car full of GPUs PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 00:00

If you need lots of compute power, you’re either already using GPU accelerators or taking a close look at them. And if you’re serious about tapping into the full processing power of the GPU, you need to take a look at the newest PCIe switch offering from One Stop Systems.

Dubbed the ioMillennia, it’s a 3U, PCIe Gen3 switch that can handle sixteen full-size GPU cards. We glimpsed this behemoth when walking the floor at GTC 2013 and were attracted like moths to the 42.3 billion candle-power Luxor Sky Beam. (Or, more accurately, like me to a donut display case.)

One Stop Systems VP of Sales Jim Ison walked us through the box, discussing both technical specs and customer usage. It’s quite an achievement, packing 16 hot and power-hungry GPUs into a cramped 3U space. And it does take a little bit of power to run 16 high-performance GPUs – about 6,000 watts provided by three 3,000-watt hot-swappable power supplies. (One is a redundant backup.)


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GTC 2013: Data Center in a Bright Box PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 00:00

One of the best things about industry events like GTC 2013 is walking the trade show floor. It gives me a chance to talk to smaller, niche companies who don’t get the media coverage given to the Industry Titans. (Or to Titan the supercomputer, for that matter.)  One floor foray brought me to CreativeC, an HPC consulting and hardware company based in New Mexico. (Here's a short video of my visit.)

The first thing that caught my eye was their high resolution video wall. With six 46-inch monitors, it was satisfyingly large; and with a full 1080p stereoscopic image, it had breathtaking clarity and image fidelity – at least to my untrained eye. Though the display sported six screens, the system can support up to 16.

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