HPC

ARM, x86, GPUs not filling the bill for HPC

by Lou CoveyEDITORIAL DIRECTOR

The data industry has been limping along with processing systems designed for personal computing and jury-rigged for big data and high performance computing. It has worked for light-touch computing applications like Facebook, but for compute-intensive applications like the Oculus Rift virtual environment and Oracle's database in-memory, the hardware infrastructure is woefully insufficient (even Oracle's hardware).

The Rube-Goldbergesque contrivances that have brought us this far have made it easy to ignore investment in new approaches, but they will fail us in the foreseeable future and retard growth in data-intensive enterprises.  And the efforts of the design automation industry to fix the insufficiency through additional kluges are as unprofitable.

New Tech Press met with the renowned computer scientist John Gustafson who confirmed that the infrastructure cornerstones (the x86 platform of Intel and ARM cores) will not bring us into the new age of high-performance computing, even with help from graphics processors from NVIDIA and AMD. Gustafson posits we need something new, and that investment in that yet-to-be determined new platform needs to happen now.

Univa filling Sun gap in EDA industry

Sun Microsystems had been an active partner and participant in the EDA world until Oracle completed its acquisition in 2010.  Suddenly the Sun logo disappeared quite conspicuously from the EDA exhibitions in 2010 and 2011 where Sun had previously been prominent and ubiquitous. A little of that came back in 2012 with Univa taking their first active presence at the Design Automation Conference. In 2007 Univa helped Sun create the Sun Grid Engine, a job resource and management tool, developed the software to meet Sun’s HPC go-to-market requirements and became a reseller of the engine.  In 2010, however, Oracle decided the grid engine division was not as profitable as they would like and dropped it altogether, giving Univa an instant gift of thousands of dedicated users and a rapidly growing service business. Nearly 30% of the company’s customers are in the EDA / Semiconductor space.

In January 2011, Univa hired the Sun Grid Engine team and redesigned their business model to continue to support and update the Grid Engine. over the following year Univa delivered more code to their new community than any third party, patching holes and adding new functionality, something that had not been done for close to 2 years.

In March of this year, Univa released the results of a Technical Computing User Survey, that showed 70 percent of the respondents expected an increase in use of high performance computing this year and 75 percent expected an increase in 2013.  No one indicated a decline in use.

The information of the survey was instrumental in Univa's decision to begin making their presence in the EDA industry obvious and the plan, according to Gary Tyreman, President and CEO is to grow that presence steadily.  New Tech Press's Lou Covey sat down with Tyreman to talk about Univa and where the EDA industry is headed.