[Beowulf] El Reg: AMD reveals potent parallel processing breakthrough

Prentice Bisbal prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu
Fri May 10 07:24:38 PDT 2013

On 05/10/2013 12:04 AM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
> On 5/8/13 6:41 PM, "Prentice Bisbal" <prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu> wrote:
>> On 05/08/2013 09:41 AM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>>> The game console business is a strange one, and I don't know that it has
>>> much to bring to the HPC world (whoa, that will provoke some comment).
>> Roadrunner's body isn't even cold yet, and everyone's already forgotten
>> about it. :(
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Roadrunner
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_microprocessor
> I think roadrunner is an example of a one-off stunt..
> In the long run, "easy programming" is probably a bigger cost driver.

One man's "stunt" is another man's "experiment" or "proof-of-concept". I 
think that Roadrunner succeeded as a proof-of-concept for using 
accelerators. If it failed because of programming difficulty, that's a 
software/people issue. While still a significant problem that can't be 
ignored, I was thinking only about hardware, and your statement. The 
success of Roadrunner in breaking the petaflop barrier can't be ignored, 
and proves that the gaming console world has already brought something 
to the HPC world.

Now it's success as a USABLE computer, is a different story, and a valid 

Roadrunner isn't the only example of game console technology in HPC. 
Google for "PS3 cluster", and you'll find a multiple cases of people 
using PS3s for HPC clusters. Yes, most were small experiments, but it 
can be argued that the reason PS3 clusters weren't widely adopted was a 
people issue more than a technical hardware capabilities problem - I'm 
sure there wasn't a large ecosystem of software available for the PS3, 
and while it wasn't hard to create a proof-of-concept cluster, I imagine 
the resources it would take to port all the libraries/utilities to the 
PS3 hardware scientist are used to having on an x86 system probably 
prohibited practical use and wide-spread adoption.



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