Get Your ASC14 On

Over at StudentClusterComp.com… …follow the action from Guangzhou, China – home of Tianhe-2 –  as we report on the second-ever Asia Student Supercomputing Challenge. Meet the teams, take a look at the hardware, and learn about the rigors of this…

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Jam, Eavesdrop, and Target Simultaneously! Software-defined radar and more…

At GTC 13 last year, the guys from General Electric gave a standing-room-only presentation about how they’re using RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) to drive multi-GPU process performance to new heights. They came back to GTC14 to talk about new and innovative applications of GPU technology they’re cooked up over the past year.

In this session, Dustin Franklin, GE GPU Applications Engineer guru, gives us an update on how it has been proceeding with RDMA and how it allows the electric company to build large scale, multi-node products.

What’s really interesting are the types of products that this is now making possible. For example, consider software-defined radar. With a big RF transmitter and enough fast computing power, you have the ability to do a lot of different things.

The same radar dome can be used for MTI (Moving Target Radar), SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), radar-jamming, and even as a communications channel. Using GPUs to configure the output and interpret the returning waves, GE has found that it’s possible to do all of these functions simultaneously.

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Coping With Disaster: Catastrophe Modeling

What’s the most common and costly type of natural disaster? If you answered “Floods caused by either storms or storm surges, or tsunamis caused by earthquakes,” you’d be right on the money. Economic damages caused by flooding events large and small are truly massive, running into the billions or tens of billions per event.

Let’s say that you own the entire Earth. If that were the case, you’d definitely want flood insurance. But which areas should you cover, and how much should you pay for it? I’ll bet you don’t know the answers to those questions; maybe you’re not so smart after all, right?

A great place to start might be KatRisk, a company founded in 2012 by “one geek, one scientist, and one engineer”. Its mission is to build comprehensive and highly detailed risk models that will give governments and businesses a much clearer picture of the disaster risk associated with particular locations.

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Steering Fleets of Satellites by Hand: More than The Force required here

Looking for something to test your Star Wars video game skills? How about this:

Launch four satellites and fly them in precise formations around the Earth along eccentric orbits. Each satellite is 1km apart from its neighbor, which sounds like a lot of space until you consider that they’re travelling at several kilometers per second during the fastest part of their orbits.

The satellites aren’t just in static orbits; you have to vary their course and the formation at least once every two weeks – more often if you see a collision coming up.

And the capper? There isn’t any fancy collision prediction or avoidance gear on board the satellites; they’re essentially just flying lightning rods, out there to capture a Magnetic Reconnection event.

If this sounds like fun to you, you need to watch the GTC14 session given by the folks from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. In it, they talk about the first rule of this mission (“Don’t crash the satellites”) and the difficulties they face in making sure they don’t wreck a $1bn mission.

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VDI a Delightful Experience? For Users? Pull the other one

This is the kind of GTC session I love: a real-world expert talking about how a difficult task is actually accomplished. Not the theory, not how it should work on paper, but what it takes to move a project from Point “A” to Point “We’re done with this”. And if there’s some humor added along the way, all the better.

Ken Fingerlos from Lewan Technology delivered in spades with his “Virtual Is Better than Physical: Delivering a Delightful User Experience from a Virtual Desktop” GTC14 session. “Delightful?” Hmm… In my past lives I’ve had to use some virtual PCs, and my experiences ranged from “absolutely unusable” to “OMG, I hate this.”

It’s easy to see that Ken has been around the block when it comes to VDI. He has all the right credentials, ranging from VMware to Citrix to Microsoft. But more importantly, he’s been there and done it.

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Virtualization 101, With a GPU Spin; Need a refresher?

One of the major themes of GTC this year is how customers can use NVIDIA’s Kepler-based GRID GPUs to virtualize desktops, enabling an “anything, anywhere, anytime, on any device” usage model. This tech was one of the big announcements at GTC12, with demonstrations of GRID for gaming and graphically intense applications.

In this session, Luke Wignall and Jared Cowart, NVIDIA senior solution architects, take us through the history of virtualization. These guys aren’t the typical product marketing types; they’ve spent a lot of time working with customers to design and implement virtualized infrastructures.

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All the World Is a Graph… and we are but solvers

I’m here in sunny San Jose attending GTC14, the annual GPU-fest sponsored by NVIDIA. This is my favorite event of the year. Why? Because of the way it’s organized. At GTC, real-world researchers, analysts, and other customers present the vast majority of sessions. They talk about their projects, the challenges they’ve dealt with, and their findings. Of course, they also talk about how GPUs helped them out along the way, but that’s what you get at a conference focusing on GPU technology.

Case in point was my first session on Monday. Titled “Speeding Up GraphLab Using CUDA”, it featured Vishal Vaidyanathan from Royal Caliber discussing the wide world of graph problems and the massive computational challenge these problems present.

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IBM Storage Guru Talks GPFS. We listen.

The video below is an interview I did with IBM storage guru Robert Murphy at SC13 in Denver. I’m still in catch-up mode after my recent near-disastrous rootkit episode.

In the video, Robert and I talk about how today’s typical RAID mechanisms (1, 5, 6, 10) just aren’t up to the job of protecting data against drive failure while providing ongoing access. Two trends in particular are responsible for the murder of traditional RAID:

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Cray, Cluster Competitions, and Careers

Over at StudentClusterComp.com we talked to John Lee, VP at Cray, about why his company so strongly supports these student programs. We also talk about the career opportunities awaiting student participants and hear some good advice about making the most of…

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