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.

Vid: EXTREME computer sports: Meet the cluster war winners

SC12 Video The 2012 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) is in the books and we have all of the results, right here, right now. First, as was released earlier, China’s Team NUDT ran away with the Highest LINPACK Award, an SCC record 3.014 Teraflop/s score. Their compatriots, Team USTC, locked in second place with 2.793 Teraflops/s, and the …

HPC cluster cowboys bag overall award, haul it home to Texas

SC12 Video I caught up with Team Longhorn just before they turned in their final results for the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC). As you can see in the short video, they’re pretty cool and composed, but I thought I sensed a little bit of anxiety under the surface. As it turns out, they should have been more relaxed – they were …

FINAL NIGHT: Boston kids power down cluster compo systems

SC12 Early on the last day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition, I hit a couple of morning meetings and then went wandering around the competition area. Most of the teams had at least two or three reps in the booths monitoring the systems and just sort of hanging around. They had turned in their final scientific results the night …

Team Utah grabs Mini Iron crown at little cluster compo

SC12 Until this year, the annual SC Student Cluster Competition focused entirely on seeing how much work teams of university students could wring out of 26 amps of juice. They can use any hardware/software combination that will run the required apps; the only limitation is that their configuration has to be shipping by the time of …

Team Boilermaker: We hammer the code... not the booze

SC12 Video We had a chat with Team Boilermaker on the last day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition. While the team did visit several of the vendor parties the night before, they assert that they didn’t overindulge, and claim that the absence of some team members is due to meetings, not hangovers. I think I buy that explanation; …

NUDT on HPC battle: Total cluster supremacy - Who needs it?

SC12 Video Team NUDT (China’s own National University of Defense Technology) was all smiles when I stopped by their booth on the final day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC). And what’s not to smile about? They had just won the LINPACK award with their record-breaking 3 Teraflop/s score and were considered a serious …

Video: High school kids fend off university challenge in student cluster battle

SC12 The SC Student Cluster Competition (SCC) has seen university teams from around the world vying to prove their cluster competence. But this year has been marked by a number of firsts, including the first team composed entirely of high school students. The Skyline High School Eagles, located in Salt Lake City, entered the LittleFe …

10,000 cities, 1 salesman, 6 nodes: It's LittleFe cluster CRUNCH TIME

SC12 Video It was the last day of last week’s SC12 Student Cluster Competition, and Pennsylvania university students Team Slippery Rock chatted to us during the LittleFe battle. In this competition track, teams of university students (plus a high school team) pushed their six-node LittleFe mini-iron to the limit, attempting to find …

Cluster compo newcomers slap down winning hand: 6 NVIDIA Tesla cards

SC12 Video Here’s a short look at what the team from China’s University of Science & Technology was up to on the last day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC). There’s a pretty big language barrier here – one that’s made worse by my inability to speak slowly and clearly after drinking a quart of press room coffee. (A note/ …

Comp sci boffins Venus: HPC newbies post respectable score

SC12 Video We spent a few minutes on the last day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) talking to Team Venus from the University of the Pacific. This is not only their first year in the cluster competition, but also the first time any of the students have done anything at all HPC-related. Under the mentorship of Oak Ridge …

Team Taiwan: We're ready to win this thing

SC12 Video I’ve covered Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) Student Cluster Competition team for three years now. And every time I talk to them they’re personable, friendly, and modest. Very modest. Too modest. This is a team with a serious pedigree that’s backed up by the best track record in the game. First of all, …

Team Venus disappears at computer sports smackdown

SC12 Video It was an exciting start to the real-time, non-stop 48-hour cluster challenge, in which the teams of undergrads design and assemble a small cluster and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications. Here’s a short video covering the beginning of the SC12 edition of the Student …

Cluster cake pulled open: Oozes cores, GPU gravy, mineral oil

SC12 At last, I can reveal the final configurations of the systems the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) warriors brought to Salt Lake City last week. Here’s the gear they were running… First, kudos to all of the sponsors who generously provided so much equipment at no cost to the cluster crown competitors. (There isn’t a real …

Chinese baby war-boffins bust 3Tflops, snatch student LINPACK crown

SC12 Salt Lake City is abuzz with news that China's NUDT team has once again snared the LINPACK benchmark crown at a student cluster-building competition. The team's record-breaking score of 3.014 TFLOPS topped all other competitors and marked the first time a student cluster team has broken through the 3 TFLOPS barrier. This is the …
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Boiler Makers swing hammer at SC12, Team Taiwan tries for a three-peat

SC12 Video Team Taiwan (from Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University) has a chance to become a three time Overall Award winner at the SC12 Student Cluster Competition here in Salt Lake City. They notched their first win at SC10 in New Orleans, repeated the feat the next year in Seattle, and are now looking for the hat trick in Salt …

Tianhe-1A schoolkids bring their best game, GPUs to cluster punchup

SC12 Video: Here’s a look at one of the two Chinese entries into the SC12 Student Cluster Competition. These kids are from the University of Science and Technology and are not only battling their cluster competitors, but are also fighting jet-lag, 8.5 inches (21cm) of snow, and my inability to speak slowly/clearly enough to be …

Texans forget deep fryer, add GPUs to lasso data-crunching crown

SC12 Meet the 2012 edition of the Texas Longhorn Student Cluster Competition team. This video was shot right after they received the scientific application data sets and had begun their initial processing. We discuss how they parcel up the work in their cluster and how they now have tools that give them a much better idea of what …

Snow and ice fail to freeze battlin' Big Iron bots in their tracks

SC12 It's time, once again, to meet some more plucky contenders in the SC12 Student Cluster Competition. Team Slippery Rock We meet the Slippery Rock team for the first time. They’re competing in the Mini Iron LittleFe division of the cluster-building contest. In the video they explain their strategy for achieving the best …

Meet the all-girl HPC cluster boffins of 'Team Venus' - on Video

SC12 It's time to meet some of the Big Iron cluster war contenders. Team Venus, the all-female Student Cluster Competition (SCC) team from the University of the Pacific, tells us how they found their way into the competition in their profile video below. They also discuss how they’re looking to encourage women to enter STEM ( …

Computer sports betting pool: WIN PILES OF virtual CASH!

SC12 As the greatest event in computer sports – the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) – prepares to kick off next week, tension is rising worldwide. Hordes of fans and industry insiders are analysing the computing tasks, picking their favorite team or teams, and arguing about it with their friends and even their enemies. We’ve …

High school kids wrestle uni students in mini-cluster match

SC12 Now that the US elections are over, it’s obvious that the world’s attention has shifted to the upcoming Student Cluster Competition (SCC), which will kick off next Monday at SC12 in Salt Lake City. The traditional ‘Big Iron’ competition (details here) has teams of undergraduates benchmarking their home-grown clusters to see …

Scraggly student veterans bid for SC12 victory

SC12 A couple of old-timer teams round out the field at the upcoming SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City. These contests started in 2007 and between them, these two teams have participated in a total of nine matches. Each school has six team members plus three advisors/coaches. Let’s assume that the competition …
Appro Xtreme Cool water-cooled blade supercomputers

All-female code-crunching boffin team aims for cluster compo glory

SC12 A couple of new – and quite different – teams are looking to shake things up at next week’s SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City. For the first time, we’ll see a coalition of elite schools combine forces to take on their more experienced competitors. We will also see another SCC first: an all-female team. …
Summer Palace, outside Tsinghua University. Pic by Bridget Coila, licensed under Creative Commons

China tries for 2012 WORLD cluster compo DOMINATION

SC12 According to Chinese astrologers, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, and it’s certainly been a most auspicious year for Chinese HPC student cluster teams. So far this year*, China has completely dominated the Student Cluster Competition circuit. China's Tsinghua and NUDT university teams took both the Overall and highest LINPACK …
SoftLayer's data center

Two Texan teams tool up, ride out to enormo cluster shootout

SC12 People in most US states would be ecstatic (or, perhaps, totally indifferent) to hear that one of their universities made it to the 2012 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City, but the state of Texas wanted more - so it's sending two teams to the Great Salt Lake Siege. Details on cluster-building competition rules, …

Young HPC warriors grab Big Irons, whack away at Cold War plutonium waste

SC12 The apps for this year’s edition of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition are the typical mix of HPC workloads, chosen to represent a range of scientific disciplines and computational challenges. In order to drink deeply from the chalice of victory student teams will need to crawl inside each of the apps, find the bottlenecks, …

Olympics is over, prepare for a COMPUTER SPORTS SMACKDOWN

SC12 It’s November, which can mean only one thing for computer sports enthusiasts: it’s time for another Student Cluster Competition. The seventh edition of this annual event begins in about two weeks at the SC12 conference in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. The competition pits teams of university undergrads against each other in a …

Power and cooling: The Oak Ridge way

Video You think you have power and cooling issues? Slip into the shoes of Arthur ‘Buddy’ Bland, Project Director for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and learn how they keep one of the largest computing facilities in the world powered up, yet cool enough to prevent melting. I talked to Buddy recently about how Oak Ridge …

Big Blue bigwig: Tiny processor knobs can't shrink forever

HPC blog While at IBM’s Smarter Computing Summit last week, I had the great pleasure of hearing Big Blue's Bernie Meyerson talk about limits to today’s tech, and the associated implications. Bernie is IBM’s VP of Innovation and one of the rare technologist-scientist types who can clearly and directly explain highly technical concepts in …
SoftLayer's data center

Why gov labs presenting HPC tech ≠ officials wolfing overpriced sushi

HPC blog Our buddy Rich Brueckner over at insideHPC broke some news this week when he published a story about new conference and travel spending restrictions that might radically scale back US government agency participation in HPC industry events like the upcoming SC12 conference in Salt Lake City this November. The new strictures are …

Software disaster zone Knight Capital bags $400m lifeline

I recently wrote about how a bad round of software testing lost Wall Street trading firm Knight Capital an estimated $440m – enough to almost put the company out of business. I speculated that Knight could be bailed out if it's allowed to unwind its computer system's unexpected burst of loss-making trades on the stock market - …

How one bad algorithm cost traders $440m

Knight Capital, a firm that specialises in executing trades for retail brokers, took $440m in cash losses Wednesday due to a faulty test of new trading software. This morning reports were calling it a trading “glitch", which isn’t nearly as accurate as the term I’d use: “f**king disaster". The broad outline of the story is here …

Tsinghua, NUDT flatten rivals in ISC cluster smackdown

ISC 2012 The 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge ended last week, and it’s high time we take a look at the winners, the awards and some of the results. Each of the five teams put in months of work designing its cluster and learning how to optimise it to run the various benchmarks and application codes featured in the competition. They …

HPC whizzkids battle own software on final day of student compo

ISC 2012 It's the last day of the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Competition, and Stony Brook University (profile here) has had their work cut out for them so far... From the very beginning, they had software problems with their cluster, requiring them to concentrate on troubleshooting and repairing while their competitors were running code. …

ISC 2012: China's 'Pop Idols' seek Klusterkamph glory

ISC 2012 Video The Tsinghua University team (profile here) didn’t take the easy route to the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition in Hamburg. They had to fight their way in a Pop Idols-style smackdown along with five other universities, which all competed to carry the Chinese flag in an intra-country play-in round. Tsinghua won that …

China's NUDT students hope GPUs will grind down rivals

ISC 2012 China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT, profile here) is staying true to its heritage by being the only team to use a hybrid CPU/GPU system at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition in Hamburg. NUDT, like Team Tsinghua, had to fight its way through five other Chinese university competitors to secure its spot …

ISC cluster kids KIT plan to drive off with vendor swag

ISC 2012 The home team at the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge, Team KIT (profile here), are a confident bunch. Not quite cocky, but confident. They made it through their first cluster competition with almost-flying colours – they had significant problems on only one of the surprise applications (WRF) on the first day of competition. …

T-shirt race stragglers aim for student cluster compo crown

ISC 2012 We catch up with the University of Colorado team (profile here) on the last day of the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Competition (aka Hell on the Elbe) in Hamburg. Even though they were the last team to get started on the challenge (owing to their lackadaisical approach to the opening t-shirt scramble), they feel good about the …

Sequoia: Can anyone learn to wield this mighty HPC weapon?

Podcast Here at ISC 2012 in Hamburg, I sat in on a podcast with Rich Brueckner of insideHPC and Dr Jack Dongarra, co-founder of the Top500 list. We talked about the 20-year evolution of the list and, of course, Sequoia, the BlueGene/Q system that topped the June 2012 rankings. Dr Dongarra spoke about Sequoia’s very impressive number of …

Team America, take two: Meet Colorado's cluster kids

HPC blog The other US-based team in the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge is the University of Colorado, whose members hail from Boulder. Colorado is by far the most experienced team in the ISC version of this competition, having sent teams to all six SC cluster competitions. In fact, I recognised several of their current Hamburg team …

What do we know about GPUs? Tianhe-1A lives at our school

HPC blog China’s NUDT (National University of Defense Technology) was the first Chinese team to compete at a Student Cluster Competition, making the trek to SC in Seattle in 2010. They came very close to winning the whole competition, finishing a very close second to Taiwan’s Tsinghua University. They also survived a gruelling intra- …

Meet China's cluster Pop Idol winners, Team Tsinghua on video

HPC blog China universities have gone student cluster crazy over the past year. When China was allotted two team slots at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition, more than 300 universities expressed interest in participating. Thirty schools submitted proposals, forcing the country to have a play-in round to select which two teams would …

US veterans Stony Brook face cluster compo crunch

HPC blog The Stony Brook Seawolves are one of two US teams competing in the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg this week. This isn’t the first time the school has participated in a contest like this, but it’s probably their longest road trip in terms of distance and culture (although NYC to Portland, Oregon is a close second …

Student HPC whizzkids in unusual competition start

HPC blog The ISC Student Cluster Challenge kicked off last night in a unique manner. Rather than a simple shouted “Go!” or a loud tone sent over a bullhorn, the organisers confronted the university teams with a physical challenge, along the lines of the old Le Mans auto races. Each team had to run across the show floor to gather up six …

ISC Klusterkamph: Meet the home squad, Team KIT

Germany's cluster-competition entry, team KIT, is defending their home turf at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge this week in Hamburg. We spent a few minutes chatting with them as the competition was beginning. They were all smiles, but it was clear that they are serious about winning the competition. This is the first …

ISC cluster smackdown: Students whip out their tools

HPC blog The final system configurations for the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge have been locked down and can now be revealed. For the ISC inaugural event, we’re seeing a lot of sameness but a few key differences. On the "sameness" side, every team is sporting various flavours of Intel Sandy Bridge processors, with speeds ranging …
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China aims to redraw the petaflop graph with 100 Pflops in 2015

HPC blog China shocked the supercomputing world in late 2010 with a chart-topping 2.56 Petaflop/sec Tianhe-1A. It was a surprising system on several levels: 1) it topped the incumbent number one box (Oak Ridge’s Jaguar) by almost 50%; 2) it was the first (and, so far, only) hybrid commodity combo of Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Tesla processors …
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German KIT v Fighting Seawolves in student cluster deathmatch

HPC blog According to bettors, the upcoming ISC’12 Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg will come down to a competition between home-country team KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and the New York-based Stony Brook University Fighting Seawolves. (No, I don’t know what a ‘Seawolf’ is either.) isc12_odds_update The competition …
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Newbie German team 3-to-1 fave in cluster building compo

HPC Blog Early money makes Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) a heavy favorite to win both the LINPACK and Overall number-crunching benchmark competitions at next week’s Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg, Germany. isc_betting_odds The high-performance computing competition, also known as “Hell on the Elbe: Student …

Supercomputers need standard shot glass to measure out juice

Webcast The biggest challenge in getting to the next level of supercomputer performance – Exascale – is the massive amounts of electricity these systems will consume. On a smaller scale, energy consumption also inhibits HPC installations. The problem isn’t just getting enough plugs from your walls to the grid; it’s also the cost of …