[Beowulf] dollars-per-teraflop : any lists like the Top500?

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Wed Jun 30 20:11:38 PDT 2010

Prentice Bisbal wrote:
> I'd like to apologize to other beowulfers for going way off-topic. This
> will be my last post on this topic.

Actually given the light volume on the list, its not too bad ... and it
is on topic in the business sense.

At the end of the day, the fundamental question we are debating is, does
the "prestige" of working with a top university/national lab have any
real tangible value that you can ascribe to the bottom line, does it
actually impact sales.

I posit that the answer to this is a resounding "no".  You obviously

This is the business side of HPC.  Its definitely relevant to
beowulfery, which seeks to minimize cost per cycle.


>> Hmm .... see above.  Did this media coverage inspire you to purchase a
>> Blue Gene?  Or an XT6?
> No because Roadrunner was not a Blue Gene system ;).

Irrelevant to the argument.  Did, the prestige of a particular system at
the very high end induce you to buy a similar one?  I don't think you
answered affirmatively on this.

> We need to look beyond Roadrunner selling more roadrunner-like systems
> and Jaguar selling more Jaguars.

Well, no.  This is what was implied, that the prestige has follow on
economic value.  I posit it doesn't.

> The success of Roadrunner and Deep Blue probably didn't sell more


> Roadrunners and Deep Blues, but I'm sure they had an effect on IBMs
> stock price, and help sell lower-end IBM systems. IBM dominates the Top

Well, here is where it gets murky.  Can you, with any specificity,
indicate what the impact upon IBM's stock price (e.g. increase in market
valuation) selling a machine under its actual cost, had upon the
company?  I *can* point you to their bottom line and show you where that
decreased by exactly the amount they may have lost in selling this
machine (IBM is smart, they generally don't do business when they will
lose money, they try to at least break even).

You can *always* see the net impact of these sorts of "prestige" sales.
  Revenue increases, and profits stay flat.

Like it or not, wall street punishes you when this happens.  This means
your gross and net margins drop.  So if the stock price rose more than
the net margins dropped ... then you *might* be able to ascribe value to
that.  The "I'm sure that..." doesn't fly here.  Any argument that
starts like that isn't going to win you friends in the financial
community.  The ones who do ascribe value to IBM's stock, and the price
in the increased business risks associated with lower margins.

> 500 right now. I'm sure their success with Roadrunner, Deep Blue, and
> Blue Gene have something to do with that.

Again, see above.  This is not likely to be the case.

> If not direct technology transfer, I bet Bob at Acme thinks to himself
> "IBM has done a lot of great things in supercomputing. They're
> definitely the experts. I think we should hire them to build and
> integrate a new 128-node cluster for our comp. chem group.

We don't see that.  Anyone on this list care to comment?

This is a good question for the list:  Did you buy an IBM because of
Roadrunner?  Did you buy a Cray because of Jaguar?

Or are your purchase decisions largely a function of budget, suitability 
to purpose, technological considerations,  and ... how big of a discount 
you got?

I suspect the latter.  I don't think many folks were influenced to any 
significant degree by the heroic class systems, other than to say "cool".

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics Inc.
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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