May 17, 2009

Japan Next Generation Supercomputer Project may get stronger by present revising.

I almost fell off my chair about the press releases on May 14 by RIKEN and NEC as follows.

RIKEN: "RIKEN revises the configuration of the Next Generation Supercomputer System (NGS) (in Japanese)"
NEC: "NEC revises role of participation in the MEXT's Next Generation Supercomputer Project (in Japanese)"

I guess that NEC chooses moderate improvement in their vector machine instead of innovation which opportunity is given by the NGS. I am very sorry that it looks a last ice dealer's business model.

A race of supercomputer development is practically a race among computer vendors, not governments even if governments lead them as a national project. Hence a 10 PetaFLOPS race is to be challenged by Fujitsu that implements the NGS for RIKEN and IBM that implements Sequoia for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after NEC gave up to build a vector unit side of NGS (Hitachi follows NEC).

A remaining Fujitsu looks active because they previewed a new processor prototype that is to be used in NGS on May 13: "Fujitsu developed the fastest CPU in the world. A Japanese manufacturer won back for the first time in a decade. (in Japanese)", and already released their architecture in March: " Fujitsu released HPC-ACE architecture that is used in NGS."

An outsider like me is interested in influence by acquisition of Sun Microsystems. But Fujitsu must be fully aware of it.

When all of three applicants for NGS R&D, Fujitsu, NEC and Hitachi, are chosen as a member of NGS developers, some friend of IBM Research told me that such formation was impossible to imagine and leads to failure easily in U.S.
Yes, Earth Simulator was implemented by a single vendor, NEC.

Now I expect a 10PetaFLOPS competitor can know the NGS project becomes stronger than before due to present revision that means a single implementer. But it discards Japanese flavor of "Scalar-Vector hybrid supercomputer".

Anyway, insufficient information about NGS probably makes strange guess like a joke. For example, "NEC abandons Japan's 'next-gen' supercomputer" guesses that Taiwan manufacturer may construct the NGS vector side. Hence, it must be getting more important that RIKEN continues to release timely and right information about NGS that can contribute to maximize NGS value as a result, I believe.

May 6, 2009

Flu and Supercomputing

Infection cases by the swine flu virus are reported every day. Watching the 2009 H1N1 Flu Outbreak Map, we can well understand that the swine flu virus is transported by traffic networks. In order to imagine present infection status correctly, this map is much better than common maps that paint out whole country even if only one person is infected.

I guess that many countries are studying propagation of infection by time and location since it could be also useful for bioterrorism cases. For example, IBM is developing Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM) code and STEM is now available as an open source code from the In April, 2009, Eclipse has approved STEM as a top-level Eclipse Technology Project and the air travel model for every US airport is available to drag in and use. The core team at IBM Almaden Research Center continues to run very large scale computations using large data sets.

With capability of Blue Gene supercomputer technology in mind, a joint team of the Scripps Research Institute and IBM Watson Research Center initiated the Project Checkmate that challenges to investigate smart behavior of avian flu virus and human immune system. IBM simulates a giant molecule structure of H of an avian flu (H5N1) virus with Blue Gene supercomputer where H is hemagglutinin that plays a role of a hook to attach with a host cell.

Still we only know the purpose and concept about Project Checkmate (movie). I hope that we will know good results by the Project Checkmate at some early date.

Apr 23, 2009

SGI into Rackable Systems, and Sun into Oracle

Following SGI's $25M purchasing by Rackable Systems on April 1, now Oracle announced "Oracle Buys Sun" with $7.4B on April 20.

After IBM withdrawal of Sun's deal, we concerned about Sun's future.
Now Sun Microsystems seems that they succeed in finding a suitable boatman for Sun ship. I wonder why Sun did not propose their purchasing to Oracle first.

However, according to the article of NY Times "In Sun, Oracle Sees a Software Gem ", "Oracle executives emphasized that they did not regard Sun as a hardware company" although "Safra Catz, Oracle’s president, called Sun a “modern technology company.”
This message has something on our chest in HPC point of view.

According to Wall Street Journal "Oracle Snatches Sun, Foiling IBM", they reported a slightly different message about Sun's hardware business, "Safra Catz, one of two Oracle presidents, said Oracle intends to make Sun's hardware operations a profitable business unit."

In any cases, it is true that Oracle expects to transform Sun to a highly profitable organization, and they must make new decision about investment for Sun's system development, such as for HPC, that demands long-term resources and much money. For example, on April 14, Sun made a large announcement about advanced hardware - new blade servers, new family of network products including InfiniBand, storage systems, and large HPC system Constellation which is equivalent that Sun promises much investment for these users. I, therefore, cannot understand why they are not so sensitive to cost as if they neglected buyer's concern before conclusion.

Not surprisingly, Oracle executive said they could make Sun profitable, and industry analysts estimated that Oracle’s cost savings from Sun operations on April 20 in New York Times. It is difficult time, in particular, for Sun's hardware people.

The icing on the cake (Leg of a snake in Japanese):

I feel something wrong about the WSJ's headline "Oracle Snatches Sun, Foiling IBM". Actually NYT introduced that Mark Loughridge, IBM CFO, suggested "a Sun deal did not pass muster" in April 20's article "I.B.M. Affirms Earnings Goal Despite Sales Slide."
It looks more reasonable idea that IBM already lost concern and left from the Sun deal.