[Beowulf] Re: vectors vs. loops

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Wed May 4 10:30:17 PDT 2005

There is already extensive reports and tables and statistics on which type
of applications and type of jobs run on all supercomputers in europe. 

Every year a report gets released. Just get the reports and you know.

With respect to governments, i hope you will forgive me that i say it, but
in europe it doesn't matter whether your supercomputer is faster or cheaper
a gflop, in general for government bodies what matters is whether you are a
better friend of the commission signing the contract.

There is still very little "open bid" type constructions here. So usually
supercomputers get sold at rip off prices, if you ask me.

Of course for those who angrily reply, i do not mean YOUR machine or YOUR
contract job. I just mean in GENERAL.

If for example a scientist or director writes that a machine must for
example have a blue color, then you know they will sign with ibm, whatever
they ask, and so does IBM know.

If they demand ECC on the L1 and ECC on the L2 cache and if the contract
demands it to have a single system image, then you know in advance SGI gets
the contract job. So do they, so they can ask whatever money.

Closed market working.

What type of jobs run on the machines is just irrelevant in that respect.

For detailed analysis on what type of jobs get run in Europe, 
see super computer reports Europe.

Of course no one is ever going to criticize any organisation either, 
as they all want to get in that paid commission body.

Quoting director interviewed a few days ago in the program "Nova": 
"When keeping interviews to select new personnel, none of those high
government officials ever managed in history to get hired for top functions
in my company as they do not meet the requirements a good manager needs in
a big company."

Please note that doesn't mean it is my opinion too.

Yet those guys decide what type of computer gets there. 


At 08:05 AM 5/4/2005 -0700, Jim Lux wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Douglas Eadline - ClusterWorld Magazine" <deadline at clusterworld.com>
>To: "Philippe Blaise" <philippe.blaise at cea.fr>
>Cc: "Joachim Worringen" <joachim at ccrl-nece.de>; "beowulf"
><beowulf at beowulf.org>; "Robert G. Brown" <rgb at phy.duke.edu>
>Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 6:40 AM
>Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Re: vectors vs. loops
>> On Tue, 3 May 2005, Philippe Blaise wrote:
>> > Robert G. Brown wrote:
>> >
>> > >....
>> > >
>> > >Still, the marketplace speaks for itself.  It doesn't argue, and isn't
>> > >legendary, it just is.
>> > >....
>> >
>> > But, does the hpc marketplace have a direction ?
>> Just as any market place it is ruled by price/performance. One could argue
>> that during the "vector machine" epoch there was an artificial market that
>> was due to the cold war. Performance at any price was an important
>> strategic issue.
><giant snip > >
>> > Of course, it would be nice to have a true vector unit on a P4 or
>> > But the problem will be the memory access again.
>> If there were a need for such a device in the big markets then there would
>> be such a device in processors.
>> We must play with the "Lego" that we can find in the commodity markets.
>> Fortunately, there are many companies that make "specialty pieces"
>> (interconnects, compilers, packaging, etc.) for the cluster market. But
>> like all companies they need to earn money - something the vector
>> supercomputers seemed to have trouble accomplishing in the absence of a
>> government supported market.
>Sounds like the old "killer ap" question, doesn't it?  If you've got a
>problem that has to be solved, and a vector machine solves it, and anything
>else doesn't, then you can fund the vector machine. I suspect that there
>were a LOT of problems that were run on classical supercomputers and their
>forebears (CDC7600, e.g.) just because that's what was available.  When FPS
>came out with attached vector processors, it was to meet a specific need
>(medical imaging (tomography) being but one).  As everyone on this list
>knows, writing software is expensive and tedious, so once you've got that
>monster code written and running, there's a substantial inertia to moving it
>to another architecture.
>However, many, many of the problems run on supers (and vectors) probably
>could run just as well on a cluster or even a NoW.  Things like rgb's monte
>carlo stuff, for instance, where it's quite embarassingly parallel, and raw
>compute cycles is what you need.  Once the cost of the super became
>significant (compared to the hassle of rewriting your code and managing that
>CoW/NoW/Beowulf) the die was cast, and the demand for a classical super
>decreased.  And, as Doug points out, the market will quickly determine where
>development and production resources go.
>A similar phenomenon occurs at a lower level, for ICs.  In the 70s,
>government bought the supercomputers and the ICs, so that's what the mfrs
>produced.  Now, consumers are a larger fraction of the market (like 90%?),
>so the mfrs produce high volume high integration computers (Wintel boxes)
>and chips aimed at that market.
>It would be interesting (in a casual inquiry way.. someone out there need a
>senior history project?) to look at the mix of types of applications run on
>computers for each decade, in particular, the dollars spent on doing that
>type of processing, and relating that to the architectures available.  Not
>many mainframe based word processors running these days, are there?  Or even
>"client/server" word processors (such as the Wang series).
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