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Report on ISC14

2014/06/30

The National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) hosted a booth at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC14) held in Leipzig, Germany, June 23rd~25th, 2014. This is the fourth year that the NCHC has participated in the ISC exhibition, the previous years being 2009, 2012, and 2013. This year, the NCHC showcased its Fly circuit database containing the Drosophila fruit fly brain neurons, its cloud free software developed over Linux, its high-performance computing (HPC) supercomputing services, and its software-defined networking (SDN) platform. The NCHC also introduced the key technologies it developed for its participation in the large cooperative FP7 projects– Fish4Knowledge and the Disaster Prevention Flood Monitoring system– including loosely-coupled based real-time streaming, dynamic network load balancing, multiple tiered hybrid cache acceleration, heterogeneous HPC environment, and proactive and distributed ganglia notification system. Many participants came to watch the NCHC’s various demonstrations over the three-day exhibition.

the photo of NCHC's booth at ISC'14
¡½An NCHC researcher discusses his research results and interacts with an exhibit attendee at ISC14

The International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) is the largest international supercomputing conference held in Europe.  It’s been held in Germany during the month of June of each year since 1986. It is the world’s first HPC-related conference and exhibition and is the originator of the TOP500 supercomputer list. ISC14 was the 29th ISC. It was held at the Congress Center Leipzig (CCL) in Leipzig, Germany. More than 2,500 participants attended the conference. Roughly 300 speakers delivered speeches on topics related to HPC technologies and applications. European-based academic research institutes and organizations made up the majority of the participants at the conference. Other institutes and organizations from countries including the USA, Russia, China, and South Africa, and including corporations such as Intel, Samsung, HP, IBM, Fujitsu, CRAY, and NVIDIA, also attended. Academic research institutes including RIKEN, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) also introduced their latest products, technologies, and R&D results.

On the TOP500 list (the TOP500 list introduces and ranks the world’s top 500 supercomputers) announced at ISC14, China’s Tianhe-2 was ranked number 1. Tianhe-2 was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology. Tianhe-2’s Linpack performance reached 33.86 Petaflop/s--roughly twice the performance of the supercomputer that took second place, the U.S.’s Titan that topped out at 17.6 Petaflop/s, thus, making Tianhe-2 the world’s fastest supercomputer! 

In recent years, there have not been many significant changes to the supercomputers listed in the top ten of the list, but it is notable that the growth in processing power has slowed gradually. Although the total processing power of the TOP500 supercomputers has reached 274 Pflop/s (as indicated by the blue line in the graph below), the growth in processing power is at a historical low. For example, between 1994 and 2008, the processing power of the TOP500 supercomputers grew at an annual rate of 90%. In comparison, the 500th supercomputer in June 2014 had a processing power of 133.7 Tflop/s (as indicated by the orange line in the graph below), but its annual growth rate over the past five years was only 55%. The rise of medium and small supercomputer applications may be one of the reasons for this slowed growth of processing power among large systems.

the chart of Top500 supercomputer performance development
¡½TOP500 supercomputer performance development: The orange line represents the processing power of the 500th supercomputer, whereas the red line represents the processing power of the top (i.e. highest ranked) supercomputer, and the blue line represents the processing power summation of the TOP500 supercomputers in total.

This year’s ISC placed an even greater emphasis on HPC applications. Some sessions focused on the true value of HPC, such as visualization and life science applications, while others focused on the future development of HPC, such as quantum computing, improving fault tolerance and response ability, and improving performance evaluation tools. The indication from this ISC was that the application of HPC technology in commercial innovation will increase the demand of different industries for HPC and, in turn, drive them to move forward and maintain competitiveness in fields such as life sciences and financial applications. Likewise, cloud computing and networking applications, those that require HPC systems to extract and analyze large amounts of data, will also become an extreme challenge and trend of the future.

The NCHC used this opportunity in attending ISC14 to promote its self-developed platforms and software and to observe and interacted with other institutes. Developmental trends revealed at ISC14 will serve as a basis for the NCHC’s future R&D and service improvements.

 

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Latest Update: 2014/10/30
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