Why Chapel? (Part 2)

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This is the continuation of my previous blog article describing why we are pursuing the development of the Chapel parallel programming language at Cray Inc. In that article, I argued for why the HPC community should consider pursuing productive new languages like Chapel. In this article, I’ll tackle some of the skepticism that typically arises in such conversations. With so many languages trying and failing . . . is this an intractable problem? Personally, I don’t believe that there is any inherent technical reason that we, as a community, can’t create a decent and productive language for large-scale computing. I believe that our failure to do so thus far has been due less to technical challenges (though they do exist) and more to … [Read more...]

Supercomputers: The Solution to Physical Test Limitations in Automotive Manufacturing

During the past few decades the world of science has changed, moving from physical experimentation alone to an environment in which simulations are of primary importance. In the automotive industry, research and design is now so advanced that it’s following in the footsteps of science and moving away from physical testing. Supercomputing has allowed automobile manufacturers to transition to a simulation-driven world. The innovative use of new materials in vehicle design is becoming the norm for automotive manufacturers — honeycomb structures and increased aluminum use being an example. With more advanced design elements coming into play, numerous manufacturing challenges are emerging; including the need for a greater number of … [Read more...]

Using HPC Techniques to Accelerate NGS Workflows

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Next-generation sequencing (NGS) describes the modern nucleotide sequencing technologies that allow analysis of genetic material with unprecedented speed and efficiency. Its advent is shifting genome assembly from a problem of laboratory-based chemistry to one well suited to high performance computing (HPC). In simple terms, NGS involves breaking up long DNA or RNA molecules into millions of small, fragments (50 to 200 nucleotides), defined as a “reads” to be assembled into larger fragments called contigs. The process of taking genetic material, processing it on a sequencer, passing it to an HPC system for assembly, and outputting digital information in a form useful for research is contained in a “workflow,” the end-to-end flow of … [Read more...]

Why Chapel?

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In previous articles for this blog, I’ve provided a high-level overview of Chapel, the parallel programming language that we’re developing at Cray Inc., and I’ve introduced Chapel’s iterators as a sample productivity-oriented feature. In this article (the first in a series), I’ll address some recurring questions about why we’re pursuing Chapel. Why develop a new language? My short answer to this question is that, quite simply, I believe programmers have never had a decent programming language for large-scale parallel computing. By “decent,” I mean one that contains sufficient concepts for expressing the parallelism and locality control required to leverage supercomputers, while also being as general, effective, and feature-rich as … [Read more...]

Cray Joins EU’s Push Toward Exascale Technologies

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Cray acquired the assets of Gnodal in Bristol, U.K. November of last year. From its start with sales and customer-support organizations in Europe, Cray has made significant additions to its R&D staff, its CTO office and other local teams. Acquiring Gnodal demonstrated Cray’s desire to grow this European R&D team, to collaborate and exchange information with other leaders in the European HPC environment as well as continue our push towards exascale technologies.  This collaboration is exemplified by Cray’s recent membership in the European Technology Platform for High-Performance Computing (ETP4HPC). European Technology Platforms are industry-led forums that collaborate with the European Commission (EC) in Brussels.  As stated in … [Read more...]