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Big or Big Fast Data?

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You say HPC & Hadoop®, I say Big Fast Data While the “Big” part of the Big Data nomenclature is a characteristic that garnered so many headlines, organizations using Big Data technologies like Hadoop, in meaningful ways are coming to discover that size alone isn’t enough. Though I’ll use the term Hadoop in this discussion, I’m really referring to anything in the MapReduce ecosystem, as well as a host of alternative “Big Data” technologies. There are a few reasons why organizations need to think about being fast, before they get big. Reason 1: Getting big is the easy part Go big, or stay relational… or even flat, for that matter. Technologies like Hadoop aren’t interesting for their ease of use, as they’re … [Read more...]

Cray, this is not your father’s supercomputing company

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Cray, the stalwart of supercomputing, is evolving and changing the face of Big Data with it. For us ardent HPC followers, we’ve known Cray for precisely what it is: the Ferrari of computers - high performance machines that have been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what’s computationally possible with bits and bytes. Cray, the company founded by Seymour Cray over three decades ago, has had an interesting evolution but has always excelled at one thing: helping researchers solve some of world’s most challenging problems. Cray is no different today; however, the computing needs of society have drastically changed. What’s also interesting is how our need for computing has changed. From simulating massive galaxies to … [Read more...]

Supercomputer, Cluster, Cellphone – What’s the difference?

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Let’s admit it. Supercomputing is an interesting industry to work in, and this line of employment often generates some peculiar questions and thoughts from people trying to gain a better understanding of what it is that we actually design, develop, build and sell. I often hear the saying: “my cellphone is a supercomputer because it’s just as fast, or faster, than a supercomputer was 30 years ago. Believe it or not, you still cannot predict a tornado on a cellphone, it just won’t work. You need a supercomputer for that type of scientific prognostication.  While today’s smartphones are, well, smart, they’re not that smart. The saying does hold some deep truth for us about commoditization and technological evolution, but … [Read more...]

Chapel: Productive Parallel Programming

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Parallel computing has resulted in numerous significant advances in science and technology over the past several decades.  However, in spite of these successes, the fact remains that only a small fraction of the world’s programmers are capable of effectively using the parallel languages and programming models employed within HPC and mainstream computing.  Chapel is an emerging parallel language being developed at Cray Inc. with the goal of addressing this issue and making parallel programming far more productive and generally accessible. Chapel originated from the DARPA High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program, which challenged vendors like Cray to improve the productivity of high-end computing systems.  Engineers at … [Read more...]

CUG 2013 Preview…On the Road to Napa

CUG 2013

The annual Cray User Group (CUG) meeting is just a week away. I always look forward to this opportunity to see and hear from our customers from around the world. They gather each May to share their experiences with their Cray systems, learn from their peers, hear from Cray’s partners and give us feedback on what we can do better. The week also provides plenty of time to meet new people and catch up with old friends. This year’s event will be in Napa Valley, California and hosted by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). CUG is an independent corporation of member organizations that own Cray systems. It actually runs independently of Cray Inc., but with very close ties.  Cray employees serve as Special … [Read more...]