NDAs Re: [Beowulf] Nvidia, cuda, tesla and... where's my double floating point?

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Mon Jun 16 08:11:56 PDT 2008


Reality is that the person who SPECULATES that something is good
also hides behind a DNA. This is another typical case of that.

On the one hand claiming a NDA, on the other hand implying that is a  
very good product that will get

My world is a bit binary there. Especially because of VERY BAD  
experiences in the past.

If NVIDIA clearly indicates towards me that they aren't gonna release  
any technical data nor support anyone with technical
data (the word NDA has not been used by the way by either party, it  
was a very clear NJET from 'em),
and all information i've got so far is very dissapointing, then  
hiding behind a NDA is considered very bad manners.

Either shut up entirely or do not hide behind a NDA.

I won't quote persons nor the manufacturer they represent,
but i remember such speculations all too well from the past.

Hard statistics show that in like 5% of the cases the speculant was  

In the other 95% of the cases the reason was that they didn't know a  
fok about what their competitors were gonna show up with.
Tunnelvision is common. Good products don't need this type of NDA- 

In case of NVIDIA if you google a tad you will figure out that the  
double precision promise has been done more than once,
many many years ago, and each time we got dissappointed. In the end  
even it was the case that the graphics cards cannot
get used for gpu programming, for whatever technical reason (pixel  
units blocking bandwidth to the RAM or whatever giving
a bottleneck of a factor 5 slowdown or so)

Then instead of a $200 pci-e card, we needed to buy expensive Tesla's  
for that, without getting
very relevant indepth technical information on how to program for  
that type of hardware.

The few trying on those Tesla's, though they won't ever post this as  
their job is fulltime GPU programming,
report so far very dissappointing numbers for applications that  
really matter for our nations.

Truth is that you can always do a claim of 1 teraflop of computing  
power. If that doesn't get backupped by technical documents
how to get it out of the hardware if your own testprograms show that  
you can't get that out of the hardware,
it is rather useless to start programming for such a platform.

It is questionable whether it is interesting to design some  
algorithms for GPU's; it takes endless testing of every tiny detail  
to figure out
what the GPU can and cannot do and to get accurate timings. By the  
time you finish with that, you can also implement the same design in
FPGA or ASIC/VLSI whatever. As that is of course the type of  
interested parties in GPU programming;
considering the amount of computing power they need, for the same  
budget they can also make their own CPU's.

For other companies that i tried to get interested, there is a lot of  
hesitation to even *investigate* that hardware, let alone give a  
job to port their software to such hardware. Nvidia for all those  
civilian and military parties is very very unattractive as of now.

IBM now shows up with a working supercomputer using new generation  
CELL processors which have a sustained 77 Gflop double precision
a chip which means a tad more than 150 Gflop for each node. Each  
rackmount node is relative cheap and performs very well.

1 Petaflop @ 2.66 MW, that's really good.


On Jun 16, 2008, at 12:42 AM, Jim Lux wrote:

> Quoting Vincent Diepeveen <diep at xs4all.nl>, on Sun 15 Jun 2008  
> 10:36:26 AM PDT:
>> Joseph,
>> It is a bit weird if you claim to be NDA bound, whereas the news  
>> has it in
>> big capitals what the new IBM CELL can deliver.
> I don't know that Joseph was claiming to be NDA bound, just that  
> there might be people who could potentially comment who are.
> But, in any case, more than once I've been in a situation where I  
> was unable to discuss or otherwise acknowledge information that was  
> public because of either classification guidelines or NDAs.   
> There's a big difference between carefully controlled press  
> releases and someone responding to random questions. And, likewise  
> there's a big difference between someone making intelligent  
> speculation about a technology and having certain knowledge.
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