Friday, December 5, 2008

The Grid is Dead: Follow-Up

I posted earlier about Arnie Mile's presentation at the Sun HPC Consortium meeting in Austin before SC08, this is the promised follow-up now that I have a copy of the slides.

Arnie's main point is that while the grid is dead, the need and associated issues remain. There is a still a need to share resources across administrative domains, and that raises a host of challenges (registration, discovery, security, etc). The current effort to build a one-size-fits-all solution (ie Globus) has worked for a handful of large government sites, but otherwise has been largely a failure, thanks to "nearly insurmountable scalability and complexity issues."

Enter Thebes, a consortium lead by Arnie and Georgetown aimed at addressing this situation, and will initially focus on authentication, authorization, and accounting. So far, they've published a first draft of a Resource Description Language (RDL), which is a single, harmonized language to describe jobs and resources. Slated for summer 2009 is a draft of a Resource Discovery Network (RDN), which is a robust, globally distributed peer to peer and hierarchical resource discovery network.

The consortium is actively seeking help, primarily in the form of developers, to continue their work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

20 Years of SC

This being the twentieth anniversary of SC, they had a large exhibit in one corner of the convention center with some pretty interesting items. Each year of the conference had a display, including technology from the time as well as items from the conference.

A main attraction at the exhibit was a Cray-1 from the mid 70's, originally installed at Los Alamos. This system cost ~$8M and provided 80 MFLOPS of processing power. The MacBook Pro in my backpack delivers more than 200 times the processing power (16 GFLOPS), and that is only 1/100,000th the power of the current leading supercomputing cluster (RoadRunner).

There were also components from later Crays (the X1, from ~five years ago)

as well as a board from BlueGene-L from the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

They had some posters with stats on the conference, it's interesting to note that conference attendance was relatively flat during the ten years from 1991-2001, but that it's roughly doubled since then. Another chart documented an increase of five orders of magnitude in both processing power and number of CPUs over the twenty years.

My SC08 Gig

I showed up a little early for my SC08 gig on Wed afternoon, as Woody Woodruff from IBM, who was playing before me, was listed as playing country music. And indeed he was - a selection of country and old bluegrass material. He kindly accepted my offer to sit in on a few when I knew the tune to help out with harmonies and some guitar solos, which was fun.

When my set rolled around, Woody hung on and played for a while with me, helping out with rhythm guitar and harmonies. I then finished up the set with some solo material. Glen was good enough to snap the picture at the top, thanks Glen!

I was followed up by a wonderful group playing classical. The music room made for a tremendously civil and relaxing addition to SC, and I went and talked to Vivian Benton,

the wonderful organizer of the room, about making it a permanent addition to SC. She said she was already there, and had requested that there be another music room at SC09, which will be in Portland.