SuperComputing 2009 in Portland

SuperComputing 2009 conference was held in Portland Nov 16-20 this year and I was sent there to participate as well.

The big good news out of the announcements was that ORNL's Jaguar XT5 Supercomputer is now officially the fastest supercomputer in the world after recent upgrade to 6-core opteron processors. And I was one person helping to make this happen too (even though the announcement does not even mention Lustre which is the filesystem used on Jaguar). It is strange how ORNL keeps naming their fastest supercomputers Jaguar (so now they actually have two Jaguar and to distinguish between them they name the later one "Jaguap pf", meaning petaflop). Jaguar sports 2.5 petaflops peak performance when all of its 255,584 cpu cores are used. Storage bandwidth is 284 gigabytes/sec.

Some of the pictures are somewhat blurry due to camera shake, since I did not want to use flash.

Surprisingly, even though we are a part of SUN now, our group got a separate small booth at the other side of the exhibit hall.

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Part of our team present at booth on Tuesday.

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Our booth was surrounded by Japanese universities. I tried to ask them some filesystem questions and it turned out that the overall English level of people present at these booths was pretty low, it took great effort to make them understand what my first question was (what filesystem they use) and then we never progressed on the second question (why do they use it instead of something else).

Microsoft also had quite a big presence in there trying to push their Windows HPC or whatever is the current name. Along with them they brought a flight simulator with virtual-reality sort of device that looked a little bit misplaced at first since HPC is not a game show.

п∙я┴п╣ я│я┌п╣п╫п╢ Microsoft

Police-looking guys are actually booth-employees collecting visitors info and giving away polarized sunglasses in return

п║я┌п╣п╫п╢ Microsoft

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Flight simulator, the thing actually moves and shakes.

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Another group of people just entered into simulator. Don't know about others, but I myself don't feel easy entering into a MS Windows-controlled machine.

Some more companies thought it is cool to bring in entertainment devices too, even though I would think there is no need for a real big scale supercomputers for the level of simulation involved.

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Virtual Reality exploring screen, it seems. Complete with a controller.

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Racing simulator.

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п║я┌п╣п╫п╢ SUN

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Some general showfloor pictures.

п∙я┴п╣ я│я┌п╣п╫п╢ Intel

Intel actually had two quite big stands. At one of those I learned that SSDs while fast for e.g. laptops, are barely suitable for small-IO applications like Lustre metadata. A guy on duty run a 4k random benchmark on a RAID0 array of 24 SSDs and while it started pretty good at 130k IOPS, in about two minutes the rate dropped to only about 30k IOPS. What worse is this rate would not improve even if we insert pauses into the flow of operation and is just a function of how many IO operations were performed on the drive since last reinitialization.

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Cray п╦ ORNL

Cray and ORNL stands near each other.


SGI stand.

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Augmented reality demonstration. A motorcycle is imaged by the camera and a computer draws a rider on top of it. You can even move the camera and the rider follows the motorcycle (though with a slight lag).

п║я┌п╣п╫п╢ University of Utah

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University of Utah had this exhibit of a man powering a netbook with a bike. Not sure what it has to do with high-performance computing, though.

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amazon was also present advertising its web services. I asked the attendant what filesystem do they use underneath and she said this is not really something they discuss. Pity.

п║я┌п╣п╫п╢ Nortelп∙я┴п╣ я│я┌п╣п╫п╢ Nortel

Cool Nortel stand. On the first picture there is a big spool of fiber optic (they claimed it is 1000 km long) that connects two racks on the opposite sides of the booth. The switching equipment is only introducing 1.2us delay on each end of the link and then there is speed of light through the link in between.

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big equipment exhibit with stuff from a lot of companies.

п║я┌п╣п╫п╢ RedHat

RedHat was also present surprisingly, even though I am not aware of any of their HPC products (their distro is used at a lot of HPC places, though. Even ORNL uses CentOS5 for their storage cluster). It's somewhat weird that Novell was nowhere to be seen even though it is used by a lof of European shops and also surprisingly by Cray.

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A lot of small videostreams outputted to big combined screen. There was a sign nearby claiming they are visualizing 1 terabit/sec

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These two pictures were taken on Tuesday evening at Cray reception. A huge crowd was invited there, yet very few seating places as it turned out. The food was ok, but I expected a whole lot more from the event. Have not met a single Cray engineer I know in there. On the other hand I was introduced to Cray CEO and other higher-ups.

All pictures from SC09 are available in the gallery.

Loot from SC09

My loot from the conference. "Intel Xeon Inside" Thermos is interesting. Alaskan supercomputing center gave away "supercomputer repair kit" that was just a bunch a duct tape. Some cool blinking pens. A pile of t-shirts, pins and notebooks. Intel also contributed a backpack and a screwdriver with flash light.

Coming there I had a high hope to get a lot of flash drives that I need for small diskless routers, but this year was pretty bad in that respect. I only got 4 and all pretty small too.

The Portland riverside turned out to have some great sights too, and especially at night:

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A big flock of canadian geese on the field in this picture (left bottom corner).

Marina in the Waterfront park

Hawthorn bridge at night:

Hawthorne bridge at night

Hawthorne bridge at night

View from Mariott Waterfront room at Naito Parkway and river:

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These are all nice every Canadian photos is very Embellishing but I like it these all Picture.