Oak Ridge National Laboratory Chooses IBM and NVIDIA for Two Supercomputers, Summit and Sierra

Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 27, 2014 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, IBM, power9, Volta

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been interested in a successor for their Titan Supercomputer. Sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the new computer will be based on NVIDIA's Volta (GPU) and IBM's POWER9 (CPU) architectures. Its official name will be “Summit”, and it will have a little sibling, “Sierra”. Sierra, also based on Volta and POWER9, will be installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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Image Credit: NVIDIA

The main feature of these supercomputers is expected to be “NVLink”, which is said to allow unified memory between CPU and GPU. This means that, if you have a workload that alternates rapidly between serial and parallel tasks, that you can save the lag in transferring memory between each switch. One example of this would be a series of for-each loops on a large data set with a bit of logic, checks, and conditional branches between. Memory management is like a lag between each chunk of work, especially across two banks of memory attached by a slow bus.

Summit and Sierra are both built by IBM, while Titan, Oak Ridge's previous supercomputer, was developed by Cray. Not much is known about the specifics of Sierra, but Summit will be about 5x-10x faster (peak computational throughput) than its predecessor at less than a fifth of the nodes. Despite the fewer nodes, it will suck down more total power (~10MW, up from Titan's ~9MW).

These two supercomputers are worth $325 million USD (combined). They are expected to go online in 2017. According to Reuters, an additional $100 million USD will go toward research into "extreme" supercomputing.

Source: Anandtech

Intel's security on the silicon is starting to pay dividends

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: IBM, Intel, txt, mcafee

Intel have been diligently working on their Trusted Execution Technology to provide security on the actual silicon and with their purchaser of McAfee this technology has quickly improved over the past year.  IBM subsidiary Softlayer, who offer cloud storage, have announced that the will be implementing TXT along with the Intel Trusted Platform module to offer enhanced security on their servers.  This should make them attractive to government and law enforcement agencies which utilize clouds storage as well as businesses that need to keep their customers data secure.  They are not the first to consider TXT but are among the largest of vendors who are currently deploying servers that take advantage of the new security.  Check out more at The Register.

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"BIG BLUE IBM has announced that its Softlayer subsidiary will be the first cloud service to offer bare metal servers powered by Intel technology that provides monitoring and security down to the microchip level."

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Source: The Register

Apple and IBM; together again

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: zip drive, powerpc, IBM, apple

Ah, sweet nostalgia.  It seems like only a short while ago that Apple was saved by IBM, and Motorola, granting access to the PowerPC chips which were near the top of the field back in 1991.  The Motorola 68K was falling behind the Pentium MMX chips in PCs and Apple needed some way to compete in the market and the 200-MHz 603e PowerPC was the answer.  Now history is repeating itself with a partnership between IBM and Apple to bring iPhone apps to the enterprise, with apps specifically for enterprise environments as well as updates to existing apps to make them more enterprise friendly.  Read up on your history, or refresh your memories of times gone by as well as what this partnership will bring in the future on Slashdot.

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"Apple and IBM, which just announced partnership to bring iOS and cloud services to enterprises, have helped each other before. IBM played a key role in turning the Macintosh into a successful hardware platform at a point when it — and the company itself — were struggling. Nearly 25 years ago, IBM was a part of an alliance that gave Apple access to PowerPC chips for Macintosh systems that were competitive, if not better performing in some benchmarks, than the processors Intel was producing at the time for Windows PCs."

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Source: Slashdot

IBM Also Considers Leaving Chip Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, IBM, GLOBALFOUNDRIES

Well this is something which I expect they will not sell to Lenovo...

IBM, one of the world's most advanced chip fabrication companies with the capability to manufacture on a 22nm node, is looking to sell this division. According to The Financial Times, via Ars Technica, the company selected Goldman Sachs to seek options. They are primarily looking for interested buyers but would also consider finding a business partner to offload the division into a joint venture.

The two initial candidates are GLOBALFOUNDRIES and TSMC.

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Image Credit: IBM via ZDNet (Outside photographers are not allowed inside their fab lab).

IBM is not willing to get rid of its chip design ability. IBM creates many chips, often based on its own "Power Architecture". This trademark comes with their RISC-based instruction sets which rival ARM and x86. It forms the basis of the Xbox 360, the Cell processor found in the PS3 (and rarely elsewhere), and the last three Nintendo game consoles starting with the Gamecube.

Despite designing all of the above chips, only some were actually fabricated by IBM.

Personally, I am not sure how serious the earlier mentioned potential buyers are. It could have easily been someone who looked at the list of leading foundries and picked the top two. TSMC is not even a member of "the Common Platform" alliance, not to mention how small IBM is compared to them, so I cannot see much reason for TSMC to bother.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is a different story, It would make sense for them to want that part of IBM (Josh notes they even share some resource centers). Still, the both of us wondered if they could afford the deal. ATIC, parent company of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, might be able to get the money from somewhere - but would they? They purchased Charter only just recently. Now, if they simply enter a partnership with IBM, that might be a different story than an outright purchase.

Fabrication is hard and expensive. Creating a foundry is about $10 billion, give or take a few billion depending on yield, and changing your equipment for new nodes or wafer sizes is not much cheaper. I can see IBM, a company that is increasing concerned with high profitability, wanting to let someone else deal with at least some of the volatility.

IBM has not commented on this rumor.

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #285 - Frame Rating AMD Dual Graphics with Kaveri, Linux GPU Performance, and Dogecoin Mining!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2014 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: podcast, frame rating, video, amd, Kaveri, A10 7850K, dual graphics, linux, opengl, Lenovo, IBM

PC Perspective Podcast #285 - 01/30/2014

Join us this week as we discuss Frame Rating AMD Dual Graphics with Kaveri, Linux GPU Performance, and Dogecoin Mining!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:02:01
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:37:45 Quick Linux mention
      1. And Motorola Mobility
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

IBM Sells x86 Server Market to Lenovo

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 25, 2014 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, IBM, x86, servers

Lenovo will take (or purchase) the x86 torch away from IBM in the high-end server and mainframe market, too. The deal is worth $2.3 billion of which $2 billion will be cash, the remains will be paid to IBM in stock. IBM walked away from talks with Lenovo last year in a deal that was believed to be similar to this one.

Lenovo, famously, took over IBM's PC business in 2005.

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... which is increasingly not IBM.

x86-based servers have been profitable, even for IBM. This is yet another example of a large company with a desire to increase their margins at the expense of overall profits. This is similar to the situation with HP when they considered getting out of consumer devices. Laptops and desktops were still profitable but not as much as, say, an ink cartridge. Sometimes leaving money on the table tells a better story and that is okay. Someone will take it.

Lenovo will also become an authorized reseller of IBM cloud computing and storage solutions (plus some of their software). IBM will continue to operate their server and mainframe businesses based on their own architectures (such as Power and Z/Architecture).

Approximately 7,500 of IBM's current employees will be hired by Lenovo as a part of this agreement. Unfortunately, I do not know how many current employees are affected. 7,500 could be the vast majority of that workforce or only a small fraction of it. Hopefully this deal will not mean too many layoffs, if any at all.

Source: Ars Technica

IBM will use Fusion-IO cards in their servers

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2013 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: IBM, fusion-io, PCIe SSD, enterprise

IBM's F825, F1650, and F3200 Enterprise Value PCIe SSD cards will use Fusion-IO's architecture to provide their servers with a storage speed boost.  Available for order as of the 22nd of this month you will be able to order these cards in sizes up to 3.2TB.  One caveat mentioned at The Register is the terms of the warranty, it is only good for 1 year or the rated number of program/erase cycles, whichever comes first.  High speed storage will be attractive to enterprise purchasers but having to replace the cards every year may cool their enthusiasm quite a bit.

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"IBM's announcement is here, and says the Fusion-io cards are available for System x and BladeCenter servers. Users get from 825GB to 3.2TB of MLC flash per PCIe slot to accelerate apps in these servers, which no longer have to wait at the data access bus-stop for disk drive latency to send the heads to the right tracks."

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Source: The Register

IBM gets serious about flash storage

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2013 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: TMS RamSan, IBM, FlashSystem, flash, 1 billion

IBM has invested $1 billion in SSD research and development, creating a project called IBM FlashSystem.  They will create a dozen 'competency centres' across the globe this year to help customers understand scenarios in which flash storage will help their business.  To show off their prowess they created a 500TB system based on their FlashSystem 820; you can see a video of the system at The Register.  IBM has already signed a deal with Sprint to build 9 storage systems and there will be more customers soon.  IBM is also redesigning their system software to take advantage of the speed of flash which will make the transition even more attractive to companies.

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"Say goodbye to TMS RamSan and hello to IBM FlashSystem. Back in 2001, IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said IBM would spend a billion dollars to boost its Linux business and that billion paid itself off within two years. In 2002, the firm splurged the same amount on Java tools, and in 2006, pumped $1bn into information management. Fast-forward seven years and Ginny Rometty's IBM is going to spend a billion dollars to boost its flash solid state storage business."

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Source: The Register

Is there a Flash flood coming?

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2013 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: spintronics, racetrack, pram, molybdenum, micron, memristor, IBM, hp, graphene, flash

Over the past several years we have seen actual production of phase change memory from Micron, though no benchmarks yet, transistors whose resistance can be altered to be used as non-volatile storage which HP has dubbed Memristors and IBM's Spintronic Racetrack Memory; all of which claim to be the replacement for NAND.  There is no question we need a new type of flash, preferably non-volatile, as it is likely that there will be a limit on effective speed and density reached with traditional NAND.  It is also true that the path to our current flash technology is littered with the carcasses of failed technology standards, whether RAMBUS is willing to admit it or not. 

Now there is more details available on yet another possible contender based on molybdenum disulfide which sports a charge-trapping layer to make it non-volatile.  The Register was told that by layering MoS2 between layers of graphene they get a NAND cell smaller than traditional cells but unfortunately there was no report of the speed of these cells.  We may soon be living in interesting times, with process shrunk traditional flash and these four technologies competing for market share.  You can bet that they will not be compatible and that each will likely spawn their own breeds of controllers and make purchasing SSDs and other flash storage devices much more complicated, at least until one standard can claim victory over the others.

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"A Swiss government research lab has reinvented flash memory using graphene and molybdenite in a way that should be faster, scale smaller, use less energy and yet more flexible than boring old NAND.

Molybdenite is MoS2, molybdenum disulfide, which is similar to graphite and also has a lubricating effect. Atomically it is a layer of molybdenum atoms between top and bottom layers of sulfide atoms. It is a semiconductor and can be used to create transistor."

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Source: The Register

News from the Common Platform Technology Forum

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: IBM, Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, CNTFETs, nanotubes

You might not think of IBM, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries as working together for a common goal, but much like the HSA the Common Platform Technology Forum brings together some strange bedfellows.  The Tech Report had a chance to sit in on some of the conference and just how this disparate group of Fab owners and pure research companies are working together to shape the future of the silicon beasts we all love to hate.  One of the main topics of discussion was the move to the 14nm process and just how designs must change in order to shrink the process to that size while at the same time increasing wafer size, with GloFo showing off their plans for the near future.  You will also be introduced to the idea of CNTFETs, the proposed carbon nanotube based replacement for Silicon FinFETs which could beat the limits of even Extreme UV lithography if they can be coerced into self assembly.  Read on and check out where the second and third largest Fabs on the planet are headed in the next few years.

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"The opportunity doesn't come along every day to get a detailed peek into the future of computing from the people who are building it. Last week, I had just such a chance."

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