Dan Olds is the owner and founder of Gabriel Consulting Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm based in Beaverton, Oregon. He pays particularly close attention to how technology continues to fundamentally transform both business and science.

SAVE ME, NASA system builder, from my DEAD WORKSTATION

HPC Blog As I walked past one of the booths on the GTC’14 trade show floor, I suddenly had the nagging feeling that I had missed something. I couldn't figure out why, but this particular booth was familiar. On closer examination, I still didn’t see anything to explain my feeling. I didn’t know either of the guys manning the booth, and …
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Converge THIS: Network titan Cisco on how to VDI in 10 days

HPC Blog Thinking about virtualising your desktops? Want to run all those sessions in your data centre and simply broadcast the screen and UI out to whatever device your users desire? There are a lot of vendors out there who are looking to ease your shift into VDI (virtualized desktop infrastructure), helping to figure out how much …
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HPC ace grills vendor over virtual desktop flavours: What about the POWER USERS?

HPC blog The idea that you can run a bunch of user desktop sessions on servers isn’t new. The benefits promised by desktop virtualisation are pretty profound, including large reductions in enterprise tech costs, better support for users, improved security and even increased user happiness. That last promise, the increased user happiness …

Pimp my HPC cluster: Luscious cores, GPU gravy, optimised apps...

HPC blog You’ve pimped out your fancy new HPC cluster with the latest technology, each node jammed to the gills with shiny new CPUs, loads of memory, and maybe even a double brace of GPUs or other accelerators. The installation work is done, and users are getting their first shot at the system. The performance boost on the new box is so …

IBM, backing away from hardware? NEVER!

HPC Blog So, it looks like IBM has moved its chipworks over to Globalfoundries, as described by Reg hack Tim Worstall here. But what are the implications for IBM's systems business? I agree that the brutal and implacable economics of the chip business forced IBM’s hand here. Manufacturing microprocessors is a hugely capital intensive …
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Enough with the rack-grappling, kids. Try this MYSTERY app

HPC blog The organisers of the ISC Student Cluster Competitions (here's a quick guide on how these HPC battles work) are a wily bunch. Theirs was the first competition to throw a “mystery application” at the student teams, forcing them to optimise an unfamiliar workload on the fly. The teams only have a few hours to learn the mystery app …

Rookie southies S Korea and S Africa prep for cluster-wrestling match

HPC Blog Rounding out the field for the recent ISC14 Student Cluster Competition in Leipzig are two semi-experienced teams that both have “South” in their names. Even though Team South Africa and Team South Korea are separated by a large amount of land and water, these two teams do have some things in common. Both of these teams have …
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Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time

HPC blog This article and the ones following it are the most comprehensive and in-depth analysis of a cluster competition that the world has ever seen. If you can find better coverage, then I'll eat a handful of spider webs. Let's dive into the results from the benchmark and HPC application portion of the ISC14 Student Cluster …
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Scotland wins WORLD RECORD as voters head to referendum polls

HPC blog The LINPACK portion of the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition (LINK) was supposed to be routine, according to the cluster competition wise guys. Sure, some student team might set a new record, but no one was expecting the new mark to break through the 10 TFLOP/s barrier. Almost everyone expected the LINPACK crown to go to one of …
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American HPC cluster kids feed data-nomming beast with fat nodes

HPC Blog Two student teams from the United States travelled to the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition in Leipzig, Germany to defend the red, white and blue – and, perhaps, to bring the ISC cluster Chalice of Victory* to the US for the first time. University of Colorado: ISC’14 marks the record-breaking eighth time Colorado has competed …

China sends THREE teams to HPC whizzkid shindig in Germany

HPC Blog China was solidly represented at the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition in Leipzig, sending three teams to compete for the legendary "Cluster Cup". Two of the teams fought their way through the Asian Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC14), topping 10 other Chinese university teams to get their ticket punched for the Leipzig …

Hot students, 'liquid coolant', bagpipes and Brazilians: It's a cluster compo, folks

HPC Blog Both the UK and South America were ably represented at the recent 2014 International Supercomputing Conference Student Cluster Competition, held in Leipzig, Germany. For some reason, I want to Google up trendy cuisine to see if Scottish-Brazilian fusion restaurants actually exist. But I'm afraid of the possible results – so let' …

They're not a travelling polka band, they're German HPC kids packing Big Iron

HPC blog Home country Germany was well represented at the recent Student Cluster Competition at the 2014 International Supercomputer Show in Leipzig, Germany. Part of the task for students is to find a vendor partner and work with them to put together the best cluster for the event. Of course, the next difficult bit is making sure the …

HPC kids: Give us your power-sipping, your data-nomming, your core laden clusters

HPC blog Let’s look at what the teams were running at the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition. This year, we had perhaps the widest variety of systems in terms of size, and also an entirely new configuration that we hadn’t seen in any competition to date. The Mass Green team, with students from MIT, Bentley University, and Northeastern …

ISC’14: Ever wanted to build data-crunching beast to beat them all?

HPC blog The ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition closed out last week in Leipzig. What a ride... It was an outstanding competition, with story lines straight from Hollywood. If John Hughes were still making movies, he’d be writing the script and shopping it around the big studios right now. (For those of you who don’t know what a Student …

Gung-ho Guangzhou college kids smash LINPACK cluster record

HPC blog It was the plucky home team from the capital of Guangdong which grabbed the crown and cash at this year's Asian Supercomputer Conference (ASC) Student Challenge. The students from Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University screamed happily when they saw the results from the LINPACK portion of the ASC’14 Student Supercomputer Challenge …
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High power computing and awesome Chinese food? Sign me up!

HPC blog Have a look at the last of the 16 teams that competed at the ASC14 Student Cluster Competition in Guangzhou, China. Team Korea (Ulan Institute of Science & Technology) is a second time competitor at ASC. As you’d expect, the first student I talk to from the team is, of course, Spanish. I was wondering if he was actually with …

Young cluster wrestlers find 'hidden' sweet spot

HPC Blog Cluster-wrestling kids are still battling it out at the Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC) and Team Shanghai (from Shanghai Jiao Tong University) is hoping to get lucky their second time around. In their first outing, the team did OK, but wasn’t a big winner. However, that same team has travelled to Guangzhou and they …

Video: Whatever you do, DON'T BREAK Tianhe-2

HPC Blog It's mostly cluster-building, processor-fumbling fun, but there will also be a few tenser moments for the teams of students attending the ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge. First, there's the competitive aspect... and then there's the fact that they'll be expected to run code on the 33,862.7 TFlop/s Tianhe-2 supercomputer: …

Brazilian whacks fast pipes on racks – and more in our student video special

HPC Blog ASC14 logo Welcome to the second batch of video profiles of the sixteen university teams competing for supercomputing glory at the ASC14 student cluster-building competition. China’s NUDT (National University of Defense Technology) is another team that could take home the ASC14 cluster crown and cash. (There’s no real crown, …

Find a partner? Nah, these students ALL play with same tools in giant CLUSTER-SHUCK

HPC blog One of the major differences between the recently completed Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge and the other major international competitions is the way the students get their clustering gear. In the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) and the SC competitions, part of the task for students is to find a vendor partner …

Experienced HPC compo kids welcome eager Brazilians to cluster-wrestling match

HPC blog In our last story, we looked at the local Chinese undergrads who are competing for cluster-building glory at the Asian Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC14) in Guangzhou, but there are plenty of competitors who are keen to grab the title and take it home – to the United States, steamy Brazil or even to the slopes of the Urals …

Junior gurus go gung-ho in Guangzhou: Meet the students putting a boot in clusters' thrusters

HPC Blog That question everyone is asking: who are the undergrads competing for cluster-building glory at the Asian Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC14) in Guangzhou this week? It’s a mixed slate of former cluster competition champions, wannabes, and newbies from almost every continent on Earth. First, make sure you're up to speed on …

Sixteen hot students, 3 kilowatts, $29k in CASH: It's cluster combat, China style

HPC Blog We're in Guangzhou, China, for the final round of the largest student cluster competition in the world. And to make it even more tense, there's nearly $28k up for grabs... The third annual Asian Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC14) features sixteen university-backed teams from around the globe, competing to see which team …
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Sod Bitcoin - solving graph problems is the new GPU-flogger

HPC blog These GTC conferences, the annual GPU-fest sponsored by NVIDIA, are my favorite events of the year. Why? It’s how the event is organized. At GTC, real-world researchers, analysts, and other customers present the vast majority of sessions, not corporate mouthpieces. They talk about their projects, the challenges they’ve dealt …

Need a refresher on virtualisation?

HPC Blog This year at GTC, NVIDIA was pushing its Kepler-based GRID GPU tech to virtualise desktops, enabling a “anything, anywhere, anytime, on any device” usage model, but as a side effect delivered lots of guidance for VDI and virtualisation newbies. GRID was one of the big announcements at GTC12, with demonstrations of the tech's …
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Sun-seeking NASA boffins steer FLEETS of satellites... BY HAND

HPC blog Looking for something to test your Star Wars video game skills? How about this: launch four satellites and fly them in eccentric orbits around the Earth. Each satellite is 1km apart from its neighbour, which sounds like a lot of space until you consider that they’re travelling at several kilometres per second during the …

HPC boffins: Our HOT MODELS will help you cope with DISASTER

HPC Blog What’s the most common and costly type of natural disaster? If you answered "floods and tsunamis” you’d be right on the money. Economic damages caused by large and small flooding events – either caused by storms, storm surges or earthquakes, in the case of tsunamis – are truly massive, running into the billions or tens of …

Get ready for software-defined RADAR: Jam, eavesdrop, talk and target ... simultaneously

HPC blog With a big RF transmitter and enough fast computing power, you have the ability to do a lot of different things, as evidenced by a General Electric presentation on "software-defined radar" at the GPU conference this year. At GTC 13 last year, GE gave a standing-room-only presentation about how it's using RDMA (Remote Direct …
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VDI a 'delightful' experience... Really?

GPU Technology Conference The VDI talk was the kind of GTC session I love. It’s where a real-world expert talks about how a difficult task is actually accomplished. Not the theory, not how it should work on paper, but what it takes to actually move a project from Point “A” to Point “We’re done with this”. Ken Fingerlos from Lewan Technology delivered in …
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Traditional RAID is outdated and dying on its feet

HPC blog 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. Youtube Video 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 …
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Supercomputer maker Cray: Jobs for HPC kids? There might be some going

HPC blog There are some teens and kids in their twenties who skip out on university courses for a trip abroad with their friends, where they spend days and nights chugging down (caffeine) brew, losing sleep and wrestling with, er, clusters. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing... In fact, it could mean that they'll one day work at Cray …

Reg HPC man relives 0-day rootkit GROUNDHOG DAY

HPC blog This is a difficult article to write, and I’ve put it off for way too long. But it’s time to bite the bullet and make an embarrassing admission to the Register audience. I’ve been hacked and hacked hard. Admitting this publicly to Reg readers is like chumming shark-infested waters with my own blood. Or like telling people that I …
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How NOT to evaluate hard disk reliability: Backblaze vs world+dog

HPC blog A few months ago, Brian Beach, a distinguished engineer at cloud backup joint Backblaze, published a set of study-like blog postings relating to his firm's experiences with hard drive lifespan in its 25,000+ spindle environment. The blogs garnered quite a bit of interest due to the subject matter, and provocative titles like: …

My other supercomputer is a Lenovo: What IBM System x sale means for HPC

HPC blog Back in May 2013, when IBM was first rumoured to be selling part of its System x division to Lenovo, I wrote a story looking at how this might impact IBM’s position in the HPC market. It’s a good time to revisit that analysis and see what the picture looks like now. As I noted in the prior story, it’s damned hard to get solid …
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Lenovo and IBM's System x biz: It'll be just like 2005's PC buyout

Analysis It was only eight months ago when the industry was rife with rumours that IBM was selling all or part of their x86 business to Lenovo. It took a while, but the deal has gone down and it’s now up to the lawyers and accountants to finalize the paperwork. This deal has turned out to be (way) more comprehensive than anticipated. …

There can be only one SC13 student cluster champion team. And it is...

HPC blog Team Longhorn from the University of Texas won the Overall Championship Award in the Big Iron division of the SC13 student cluster-constructing competition in Denver. Now that the dust has settled on the contest – which challenges undergraduates to build and benchmark HPC rigs against the clock – here's the lowdown on the …

What happens when you give undergrads $2,500 to build a HPC rig out of commodity parts? This...

HPC Blog The team from Bentley University and Northeastern University took the first ever Commodity Track Overall Championship award at the recently concluded SC13 Student Cluster Competition. In this competition, student teams had to build a true HPC cluster (at least two nodes), while spending a maximum of $2,500. After building and …

China's supercomputing whizzkids: Busting out a 8.224 teraflops cluster? Guilty as charged

HPC blog China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) grabbed the LINPACK award at the recently concluded SC13 Student Cluster Competition. NUDT topped all other competitors with a score of 8.224 TFLOP/s. NUDT’s LINPACK win isn’t a surprise to competition observers, the team hails from the home of Tianhe-1 and Tianhe-2, …

Asleep on the job: Students dream of GROPING RACKS after darkness falls

HPC blog Student Cluster competitions at the annual Supercomputing Conference in Denver, Colorado, are marathons. The students who work their magic on the big iron get a set of scientific applications and some data sets, but they have only 48 hours to submit their best results – all while keeping their self-designed clusters under the 26 …

Where do HPC brainbox students go after ULTIMATE VICTORY?

HPC vid We’ve been following these student cluster competitions for several years now (since 2010, to be more specific). While we’ve talked about how ambitious and driven these kids are, and how these competitions can open many doors for them, we’ve never asked the seniors what they’re headed towards after they graduate. We’re fixing …

Meet the cluster teams: Can Slippery Rock or Sun Devils burn?

HPC blog Here's an up close and personal look at two of the four teams that competed in the SC13 Commodity Track Cluster Competition. These teams could build anything their hearts desired as long as the total cost was less than $2,500 (US). University of Slippery Rock (Team Rock) This is the second year that Slippery Rock has fielded a …
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Meet the cluster teams: High schoolers and even more Boston

HPC Blog Four teams brought their $2,500 clusters to SC13 in an effort to prove that they alone can get the most FLOP/s out of their cheap gear. We've already covered the teams from Slippery Rock University and Arizona State, now let's get a gander at the other two teams. Skyline High School (Team Skyline) Team Skyline is the youngest …

Meet the cluster teams: Mass Chowdah and Tennessee Volunteers

HPC blog Here's our first look at the final two teams who competed in the Standard (Big Iron) Track at the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver. Mass Green (“Team Chowdah”) has competed in two previous SC cluster competitions (Seattle in 2011 and Salt Lake in 2012). It’s a competitive team, but one that hasn’t quite been able to …
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Meet the cluster teams: Team Quokka and Team Germany

HPC blog We had a couple more first time teams competing in the Student Cluster Competition at SC13 in Denver last week. These two teams traveled overseas in an attempt to grab cluster glory and haul it back home. ('Cluster glory' will comfortably fit in the overhead bin on most airplanes.) Team Quokka: This is the nickname for Australia …
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Meet the cluster teams: Chinese Fortune Rookies, Team Venus 2.0

HPC blog Here's another up close and personal look at two of the Standard Track (Big Iron) teams that competed for the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver crown (there still isn't any actual crown, however.) Both teams have competed before, but they're staffed by almost completely new personnel. National University of Defense …

Meet the Cluster teams: Colorado and Texas

HPC blog Exciting times at the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver this year. Time to take an up close and personal look at two of the most experienced teams in the competition, Colorado and Texas. These teams have distinctly different personas. Colorado teams are usually reserved and businesslike, while Texas teams tend to be a …

Mini-cluster competitor configs revealed

SC'13 The students in the Commodity Track of the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver faced quite a challenge last week. They had to build at least a dual-node HPC cluster, but could only spend a total of $2,500 on it. There are lots of ways to go. You can get the smallest/cheapest motherboards possible and string a bunch of …
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BIG IRON cluster warriors put pedal to HOT METAL

HPC blog We saw an interesting assortment of gear from the teams competing in the SC13 Standard (Big Iron) Track of the Student Cluster Competition. As you can see on the handy table below, the teams had a lot in common on the surface. They all ran some variety of Intel Xeon as their base CPU, most were using Mellanox Infiniband …
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GPU secrets unveiled for student cluster warriors

SCC'13 We’re less than two weeks away from the start of the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver. Right now, the 12 student teams are turning over every rock they can find in their hardware and software stack in an effort to eke (and geek) out every last bit of performance. Time is short. In a week or less, they’ll be packing up …