From Grand Challenge Applications to Critical Workflows for Exascale | Part I


(This is the first in a series of three posts. The second will discuss critical workflows in oil and gas and the life sciences while the last will speculate about machine learning techniques to optimize such workflows). A bit of background In the late ’80s, U.S. federal government agencies became convinced that a substantial effort to fund R&D in high performance computing (HPC) was required to address so-called “grand challenges” — fundamental problems in science and engineering that are ambitious (requiring some advances in science and technology) but achievable. In 1992, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OST) released a recommendation proposing investments in HPC systems, technology and algorithms, a national ... [ Read More ]

Using Supercomputing to Create the World’s Most Fearsome Fly Swatter


The silverleaf whitefly is like a horrible house guest. It arrives uninvited with thousands of friends, trashes the place, eats everything in sight and then sticks you with a clean-up bill that runs into the billions of dollars. That’s exactly what Bemisia tabaci – the silverleaf whitefly – does to the global agricultural industry every year. In food insecure regions such as East Africa, however, these sap-sucking insects have an even more devastating effect. Here, the silverleaf whitefly attacks the cassava plant, a crucial food source for the region. But not only does it eat the plant’s leaves, it transmits two cassava-killing viruses. Together, these viruses will wipe out an entire year’s product. For a family, a whitefly infestation ... [ Read More ]

Chapel Users ‘CHIUW’ Their Way Through Portland


A few dozen Chapel enthusiasts recently devoted a weekend to CHIUW 2015 — the second annual Chapel Implementers and Users Workshop. CHIUW (pronounced “chew”) is a forum for developers and practitioners of the Chapel parallel programming language to meet and share results while strategizing about the language’s future. This year’s workshop was held in Portland, Oregon, as part of the 36th annual ACM SIGPLAN conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI). Between events, attendees made good on the CHIUW name by taking advantage of Portland’s food scene at Frank’s Noodle House, the Red Star, Blossoming Lotus, Burnside Brewing Company, Salt and Straw, Voodoo Doughnuts (natch) and Tilt (get the pie shake!). CHIUW 2015 was ... [ Read More ]

Vectorizable Vs. Vectorizability: The Big Difference


Is your application vectorizable? Today, users generally answer that question by compiling with and without vectorization turned on and then looking at the difference in runtimes. While this is easy to do, it is not appropriate since it only answers the question:  “Is my application vectorizable” with the current compiler? The question to be addressed is whether the important looping structures in the application can be restructured to be vectorized. Thus, “What is the vectorizability of the application?” In fact, we will not be dealing with the traditional vector instruction that existed on Cray systems delivered in the ’80s. What we have today are functional units that look more like the even earlier Illiac IV —how many of you remember ... [ Read More ]

[Video] Innovative HPC Models Give Oil and Gas Companies an Edge


  As worldwide demand for energy continues to rise, the oil industry is working to satisfy demand for the hydrocarbon part of that equation. High performance computing is becoming critical to companies that are seeking new sources of hydrocarbons and trying to maximize existing reserves. At Cray, we’ve been working hard to stay ahead of oil and gas companies’ needs, and our efforts over the past few years have made our solutions an excellent match for them. Understanding the HPC problems facing oil and gas organizations Traditionally, efforts to improve seismic processing throughput have come from a match between the availability of newer CPUs featuring faster clock speeds, and new algorithms designed to take advantage of ... [ Read More ]