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High Performance on Wall St: IBM-fest September 20, 2006

Posted by newyorkscot in HPC.
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The second session of the conference was succinctly called “Enabling Financial Analytics for Competitive Advantage via High Performance, Scalable and Flexible Infrastructure” aka Big-Blue-Tooting-Its-Horn.

I guess the headline was the new form factor of their Blue Gene next-generation hybrid supercomputers which leverages their Cell Broadband Engine Architecture. Each rack in this multi-core (AMD/Intel) machine  has 1 Terabyte of memory and supports 2048 threads. It was described as a giant memory stick studded with chips and “pointers” where the 16,000 nodes can deliver 8 Terabytes of memory and perform 90 Gigachases/sec. IBM have built this machine with no moving parts (e.g. the fans are separate), helping to keep the temperature down. In terms of I/O integration the “memory stick” is studded with I/O chips to allow grid integration with both Datasynapse and Platform. Apparently, this can keep scaling, but starts to run into memory constraints.

Next up was the General Parallel File System (GPFS) which assists in the scaling of file servers and avoids the bottlenecks of NFS/SAN based file systems. The idea is that any node can read to/from any (shared) disk in the system. GPFS is not a client-server FS and stores metadata with the files and has no single metadata server. Performance-wise it allows access at the rate of 15GB/s for any single node and 100GB/s against any single file; supports 100s of nodes; and over 200Terabytes of storage.

IBM’s new BladeCenter was also profiled in terms of dealing with network latency, improved power output/heat density and supporting virtualization to control loads.

Finally, we got to the “Latency Stack” (not sure I want to buy a stack of latency!). This is another way of packaging all the new Websphere stuff that includes Websphere Extended Deployment (XD), Websphere Front Office for Financial Markets (mainly deals with streaming data apparently), and Websphere Realtime 1.0 (which has JVM extensions and allows control of the Garbage Collector and Ahead of Time (AOT) Compliation.

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