[Beowulf] El Reg: AMD reveals potent parallel processing breakthrough

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Sat May 11 09:39:22 PDT 2013

On 5/11/13 1:56 AM, "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl> wrote:

>On May 10, 2013, at 6:04 AM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>> On 5/8/13 6:41 PM, "Prentice Bisbal" <prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu>
>> wrote:
>>> On 05/08/2013 09:41 AM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>>>> The game console business is a strange one, and I don't know that
>>>> it has
>>>> much to bring to the HPC world (whoa, that will provoke some
>>>> comment).
>>> Roadrunner's body isn't even cold yet, and everyone's already
>>> forgotten
>>> about it. :(
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Roadrunner
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_microprocessor
>> I think roadrunner is an example of a one-off stunt..
>> In the long run, "easy programming" is probably a bigger cost driver.
>The top500.org of today completely refutes your statement there.

Top 500 is just that "top 500"..

What fraction of total computational work done on clusters is being done
by the top 10?   I suspect that when you get down that list a ways, you
start seeing fairly pedestrian clusters with fairly conventional nodes,
and that there are a LOT of them and they do a lot of work, day in and day

Achieving a record is a stunt, by its very nature.  It might be a proof of
concept. It might be a national competition.
And for such a thing you can recruit the very few people who know how to
effectively use it.

But ultimately, I'll bet there are a LOT more people doing HPC by using
libraries and such that hide a lot of the cluster specific aspects: from
their standpoint, it just inverts that 10,000x10,000 matrix faster. Or
whatever. People run Matlab on clusters. Not "parallel Matlab" but
separate instances of Matlab on each node. Sure, it's not the most
efficient way to do things, but if it gets the job done, and the work in
writing the code is short enough, then maybe that's an OK trade.

Not every application of HPC needs to have the ultimate speed, nor the
ultimate efficiency.  It just has to be "good enough".

Bringing up an interesting question.  How many clusters are there in the
world? Clearly thousands.  Tens or hundreds of thousands?
What's the size distribution?

10-15 years ago, people were proud of their 16 or 32 node clusters.
Today, we talk about toy clusters in that size range. Limulus is, what, 3
boards with 4 core processors?


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