SC19: Our Visit to the State Fair

SC19 Postview

Our show today is all about what we saw at the “State Fair for Nerds” that is SC19. Where there weren’t any livestock shows or supercomputers carved out of butter, there was a lot to see and hear.

Shahin talks about the European Processor Initiative and conversations that he had with folks from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the quantum computing briefing by D-Wave, and a chat with Cold Quanta.

We reiterate the bet between Henry and Dan, where Henry bets Dan that there will be a RISC-V based system on the TOP500 system by SC20. The stakes? The winner gets the dinner of his choice paid for by the loser.

Jessi went to the keynote by Dr. Squires and notes that someone asked him “where did you use HPC systems in your project?” This prompts Jessi to ask us if it’s kosher to have keynotes which don’t necessarily hit directly on HPC. We discuss how there have been non-HPC centric keynote speakers at several SC events in the past….see Al Gore, Alan Alda, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc.

Dan brings up the news from NVIDA about how they’ve gathered a consortium of big-time industry players who will be working on adapting ARM processors for accelerated computing. We speculate on whether Fujitsu will be contributing their very sporty new ARM chip to the group, with thoughts of licensing it for use by other vendors. In other NVIDIA news, Azure now has eight GPU instances connected by InfiniBand interconnects.

Why Nobody Should Ever Be Online. Ever

This week Henry has a reason why no one should ever go to a local doctor again. Ever. He cites an article about how a small doctor and dental office service provider suffered a ransomware attack, which meant that the doctors they were managing archiving for could no longer get access to their records. If this can happen to service providers, it can run these smaller providers out of business as HIPPA regulations and fine are onerous. Dan comments that he only goes to vets for medical services (just like Kramer on Seinfeld).

Things You Think You Know, But Might Not

In this installment, Jessi asks the panel about interconnects, why we need them, what they do, and what are your choices. Dan jumps in with discussing Ethernet and InfiniBand, while Henry jokingly brings up Token Ring. More helpfully, Henry discusses proprietary interconnects and things like RDMA and ROCE. Shahin believes he has the definitive answer, which is the start of his Computing 301 Lecture Series. This leads into a slight tangent where we discuss SMP vs. MPP and how coherency at scale is incredibly expensive.

Catch of the Week

Shahin: Talks about a young man who bought his own IBM z/890 mainframe for $350 and installed it in his parent’s basement. Amazing feat. He has it running and now has the only mainframe in his neighborhood. Congrats to Connor. IBM needs to hire this young man and harness his passion.

Jessi:  Getting or giving an Alexa or Google Home device? Better think twice and then think again. Big time security flaws in both devices.

Henry: Has no catch of the week. He’s looking at -14°F and has to go out and shovel snow.

Dan: Biggest tech flops of 2019. Includes We Work, Samsung Fold, hacks of VPNs, Facebook Libre and other ignominious failures.

Did you say logo?

Most of you probably didn’t know that RadioFreeHPC even has a logo, Dan thinks as he gives an update on a project to update the logo, in several colors. Getting closer to the sure-to-be-coveted RadioFreeHPC merch we all wanted!

Listen in to hear the full conversation

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