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Douglas Eadline, Ph.D. Archive

Douglas Eadline is the Senior HPC Editor for Linux Magazine.
A Little (q)bit of Quantum Computing
Recent news has put quantum computing into the spotlight. Is quantum computing almost here?
Emailing HPC
Email is not unlike MPI. The similarities may help non-geeks understand parallel computers a little better.
Chasing The Number
The Top500 list is a valuable measure of HPC progress, but the race it has spawned maybe over for many organizations
Where’s the Parallel Beef?
Yet another parallel programing rant. Has the cluster market all but killed parallel tools development?
Understanding Parallel Computing: Amdahl’s Law
More cores mean better performance, right? That's not what Amdahl says. Learn one of the foundations of parallel computing in "Amdahl's Law." Prepare yourself for math. And lawn mowing.
May’s Law and Parallel Software
This little known "law" is a corollary to the more famous Moore's Law of semiconductor growth.
Pocket Wars and Cores
The battle going on at the low end may have consequences at the high end.
Why Parallel Matters
As the move to multi-core accelerates so does the need for parallel programming, but first let's look at what is causing this trend.
HPC 101: Concurrency, Parallelism and You
Class is in session! Professor Eadline walks us through the concepts of Concurrency and Parallelism and how they will apply to all computer programs in the future (not just High Performance Computing).
Open Grid Engine Schedules a New Path
One of the open source refugees from the Oracle/Sun takeover finds a welcome home.
Large Scale SMP, Yes Really
How can the benefits enjoyed by large shared memory systems exist in a distributed cluster world?
The 1000 Core Processor
The eventual move from multi-core to many-core is on the horizon and it looks to be a real doozy.
HPC 2010: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
A look at some disappointments and highlights of 2010 HPC season
SC10 Nuggets
Some of the quieter stories may turn out to be the most interesting in the near future.
Digging Into The Top500
Who cares about the FLOPS. The real story is about who and how.
The High Road to HPC Tools: Lunch with Intel’s James Reinders
My yearly check-in with Intel's lead software director/evangelist covers compilers, AMD processors, new tools, benchmarks, and other developments that make ordering your bits a bit easier
SMMscale: The Next HPC Challenge
One of the big challenges in HPC is not at the top, but at the bottom
Smashing (and) the HPL Benchmark
As SC10 fast approaches, you may have little incentive to read this column, which is why I include my latest personal drama.
Small Hardware and Big Software at SC10
The promise of a sofa at SC10 has all the hallmarks of a successful trade show.
High Performance Community
The often forgotten community aspect of HPC gets remembered each year at the fall Supercomputing conference.
Round Two of the OpenMP-MPI Smack-Down
Ready for the HPC MMA battle? Of course I mean a Memory and Messages Assessment
Smart Clusters: Intelligence Is As Intelligence Does
Is there a place for Artificial Intelligence on your cluster?
HPC Past and Present: Remembering the i8087
Where do all good ideas go? Into the CPU of course.
The Parallel View
The lessons of cluster HPC may prove valuable to the mainstream
Talk About HPC Bang For Your Buck, How About Ka-Boom For The Server Room
An HPC product review featuring the Appro 1U Tetra GP-GPU server
More on Multi-core
Multi-core has made it to cell phones. Doug follows up on some recent stories about low power cell phone clusters and high power multi-core memory performance
Exercising Multi-core
An opportunity to run some simple yet telling tests on a 12-core Intel Gulftown server presents itself
The State of Oracle/Sun Grid Engine
Recent news and product releases could be cause for concern for the future of the open source Oracle/Sun Grid Engine.
A Cluster In Your Pocket
Cell phone processors are getting more powerful. Is a cell phone cluster possible?
Moving HPC Closer to The Desktop
Cloud and Multi-core offer new modes of High Performance Computing. Will it suit your needs?
Cluster In The Clouds
The new Amazon EC2 Cluster Compute Instance may be a game changer in HPC
Summer Language Seminar: The R Project
The R statical language is more than a plotting tool.
Blowing The Doors Off HPC Speed-up Numbers
A recent paper by Intel provides some hard data on CPU vs GP-GPU speed-up numbers.
The End Of The HPC Server (As We Know It)
Has the big multi-core Xeon and Opteron server jumped the HPC shark?
Low Cost/Power HPC
The low power Intel Atom offers some interesting possibilities for HPC. Does it make sense to try this approach?
Disposable HPC
Increasing total cost of ownership (TCO) may make throw-away nodes an option in the future
An HPC Field Trip
A trip to New York City to discuss HPC is a nice diversion from the basement life style.
Intel’s Single-chip Cluster Computer (SSC)
Intel recently released an experimental processor that resembles a cluster on a chip.
Toasting Freedom: Trading Choice for Convenience
The growth of clustered HPC is do in part to the freedom to choose (and toasters).
Highly Parallel HPC: Ants vs Horses
Combing things in parallel often has unexpected consequences and outcomes.
Homebrew HPC: Stomping On The PS3
Sony removes choice from the PS3 and personal HPC takes a hit
Supporting The HPC Hero
InterSect360 shares some valuable marketing insights about the HPC market and invites HPC leadership
Scheduling HPC In The Cloud
New additions to Sun Grid Engine allow integration with Clouds and Hadoop (map-reduce) jobs
GP-GPUs: OpenCL Is Ready For The Heavy Lifting
nVidia CUDA may be the rage, but OpenCL is a standard that has some features you may need.
HPC Madness: March Is More Cores Month
This month we are supposed to hear about new multi-core processors from both AMD and Intel. Should we be happy?
HPC Turn-Offs: Power Control
Managing power can save money especially if it is from your wallet
The Cost to Play: CUDA Programming
Introduced less than three years ago, the rapid growth of the CUDA software model is no accident
The HPC Software Conundrum
Can a solution for HPC software live within MPI, OpenMP, CUDA, OpenCL, and/or Ct?
Cheap Stuff: Trends in Commodity HPC
Commodity trends at the low end are generating interesting ideas in HPC
The SC09 Video Train Has Pulled Into The Station
Our final videos include Appro, 10GigE, and making sense of it all
More SC09 Videos: IBM, ScaleMP, and The Great T-shirt Hunt
Let's all help the Haiti relief effort and then watch some cutting edge videos
SC09 Videos: AMD, Penguin, and the HPC French Fryer
I get the latest from AMD, talk with Don Becker, and then get disruptive
From Ct to InfiniBand, The inside Scoop from SC09
A new year is upon us, but wait, I'm not done with the old one yet!
Eating Your Own Tail: HPC in 2009
Truth is stranger than fiction. The connection that helped end HPC careers and companies in 2009
A Second Smattering of SC09 Videos
This week we hear from Intel, Numascale, and Mellanox. Plus some thoughts on single node HPC solutions
Getting Intense About Data: The SDSC Gordon Cluster
One of the challenges facing HPC are I/O rates and new clusters designs are paving the way to new levels of performance.
HPC Gone Wild: The SC09 Video Parade Begins
The first videos from SC09 are here. We take a look at the Beowulf Bash, SCinet, NVidia, and Adaptive Computing (previously Cluster Resources
HPC Reflections: SC09 in Portland, OR
The big show is over and now all that remains is to make sense of it all
The Unofficial Guide To SC09 (Part Two)
Let's use the HPC fist bump this year.
The Unofficial Guide To SC09 (Part One)
Your guide to navigating the coolest tradeshow on the planet.
You Need A Cloud Based Grid Supercomputing Cluster
Are you a Geek or a Droid? Take the simple quiz to find out!
Parallel Programming: Non-optimal Is as Non-optimal Does
Preserving program state is necessary for parallel computation, but should we keep doing it the hard way?
When HPC Is Not An Afterthought
Hitching a ride to a fast moving technology is a welcome trend
HPC on Wall Street: Report From the Front
In stark contrast to one year ago, this year's show was well-attended and upbeat.
Parallel Programming: I Told You So
Will a new feature make C the answer to the parallel programmer's dreams?
The Commodity Push
The 10 GigE train is on its way. Simplicity and low cost have left the station.
One Node For One Process
Hybridizing MPI applications with cores and GP-GPUs. Is this a good idea?
Eating, Smashing, and Mixing
The acquisition of Sun by Oracle raises many questions and recalls some past experiences
Why You Should Touch MAGMA
Hiding the details of the multi-core and GP-GPU hardware is a really cool goal
The Core-Diameter
How big of a cluster can you build? With a little math and the speed of light you can find out.
Over There Vs. Over Here
Matching the right solution with the right problem takes skill, flexibility, and a little luck.
Don Becker On The State Of HPC
A Beowulf pioneer provides insights and experience from the HPC trenches.
Commodity Software
Commodity hardware is the norm in HPC. What about commodity software?
Fireflies and Ants
Large insect populations synchronize globally, but communicate locally. Is there a lesson for parallel computing?
It’s About Time
SGI/Rackable Walks away from a PFLOP deal. No, this is actually good news.
Concurrent and Parallel Are Not The Same
Pick one: portability or efficiency. Neither is guaranteed when writing explicit parallel code
HPC From the Beach
How can getting to the ocean help with HPC computing?
Scaling Bandwidth
SMPs may have cores, but clusters have bandwidth.
HPC Hopscotch
Data locality is the key to efficient code.
Small HPC
Will multi-core split HPC into two programming camps? Which one will you join?
A Brain in a Band-Aid Box
As multi-core solutions continue to grow, a new power saving single-core server approach takes hold
Is La Toya Jackson a Prime Number?
"Making the world's knowledge computable" -- Sounds like a job for parallel computing.
Clouding Of The Grid
To the casual observer, cloud computing often looks like grid computing, but from an HPC perspective it is not even close.
Incremental Twiddling
As GPU Clusters hit the market, users are finding small code changes can result in big rewards.
Sledgehammer HPC
HPC without coding in MPI is possible, but only if your problem fits into one of several high level frameworks.
The Servtainer Has Arrived
What happens when large-scale forces re-think the traditional solution? The shipping container has become the new supercomputer case.
Expediting Synergistic Paradigms
By exploiting frictionless deliverables, the real story of SGI can be told through architected and integrated convergence
The Clustering Way
Aside from a new processor for cluster vendors to sell, the Nehalem represents a more subtle change in the market.
Multi-core Clip Show
Yet another multicore rant. This one is triggered by the recent Multicore Expo.
Good Enough Will Have To Do
Determining how fast your application will run on multi-core based systems all depends, And, it may not depend on you.
Beowulf Is Dead?
Relax. It is just a catchy headline to draw your attention to some classic insights into the HPC cluster market.
Cellular HPC
A simple game gives some insights into the complex uses for clusters and cores.
Good Old Ethernet
Did you know there are two projects that can give Ethernet a performance boost?
The Beowulf Questions
Would a Cluster By Any Other Name Be As Cool
Fun and Games
Can HPC be more fun? Maybe a little more intelligence and graphics can put a smile on your face.
HPC Hardware is Free
In the big picture HPC hardware is a small part of the economic equation. What are the big parts?
Drawing Conclusions: The Promise of GP-GPU Computing
Setting expectations in a fast moving and fast computing market sector.
You Are Not Supposed To Do That
Is the HPC market big enough to drive new products and processors?
Happy 2019
This week we jump ten years into the future to see how it all plays out.
Hitting The Experts
This week we look at some preliminary HPC econimy survey numbers and intoduce a chance for you to smackdown the HPC experts
HPC Smackdown: Are Multi-cores really bad for HPC?
Open Discussion: Are the experts to be believed?
Hitting The Wallet
This week it's your turn. How has the economy effected you HPC plans for next year? You are invited to participate.
Hitting The Wall
A snapshot of the HPC market from IDC and the dreaded "wall" is here.
Following The Leaders
Back from SC08. Recovery from the HPC discovery is in order.
Jump’n Jack Flash
Live from SC08 -- from the fast, to the small, to the piano bar, Doug remembers most of it.
Become a Lazy SOB Administrator
Cluster Administration is possible and even easy if you focus on the basics.
The Big Party In Machine City
How to rub elbows with the crew who started it all (and get some free beer)
Doug Meets The iDataPlex
Travel with Linux Magazine's HPC editor as he finally learns why everyone is fussing over the the IBM iDataPlex.
Breakthroughs of the Pedestrian Nature
Since we are already talking about packaging, let's consisder those forgotten breakthroughs that help make it all possible.
The Case For A Case
The case for a personal cluster case. Can HPC growth be enhanced with only a few pieces of bent metal?
Hazy Computing
Today machines manage what we cannot. Are we dependent upon results or processes we do not understand?
Corporate Meiosis
The recent AMD split seems to be a sign of the times. Is sharing the new business model?
What He Said
Another voice of concern over parallel programming. Plus a wild idea.
Resilience On Wall Street
A journey into the heart of Wall Street HPC. It is still ticking.
Green HPC: The New Secret To Going Fast
HPC is just beginning to warm up to the idea of green computing. But can green give you a faster, better and cheaper high-performance cluster?
Odd Numbers of Things
Multi-cores may come in varying and odd numbered sizes. Once again, software needs to adapt.
Really Big Computing for Really Small Things
A grand experiment has begun. As protons collide, data flies around the globe landing in a cluster near you.
The Cold Hard Facts About Heat
Not only does green HPC save money and reduce power usage, it also increase reliability.
Really Big Things
How does one manage really big clusters? Perhaps nature can give us a clue.
Cluster Standards, Who Needs Them
Do we need software standard for clusters? Future software may make standards obsolete.
Lessons Learned, Again
Cluster training for both student and teacher. Plus, re-learning a big lesson the hard way.
Cloud Enabled
Cloud Computing: Revolutionary technology for high performance computing or partly cloudy with a chance of "we've heard this one before?"
Attaining a Higher Level
Referential transparency -- whatever that means -- and the path forward.
Threads Happen
Borrowing WiFi, wrapping up vacation, and seeking enlightenment through Erlang.
Summer Lovin’ Erlang
Tell me more, tell me more...
A Functional Stand
Is Erlang a Holy Grail for the multi-core/parallel developer? Doug Eadline begins to build his case.
Can You Feel It?
Back in late 90′s there was a time when clustering was the rage. A few boxes, a fast Ethernet switch, some Linux software and presto, you had a cluster. Like every new technology there are misconceptions, hype and detractors. Eventually, …
A Surging Rant
So you think you're a cluster vendor? You might want to watch how you toss that term around Mr. Eadline.
The X=X+1 Issue
A trip down memory (addressing) lane for parallel programming.
The Lawnmower Law
Now with 100% less calculus.
Not Necessarily Parallel
Parallel fundamentals, what constitutes an actual parallel program, and why some applications may or may not run faster on multi-core systems.
The Total Cost of Parallelization
Before tucking into that next project, developers really need to start asking themselves, "What's this going to cost me?"
How The GPL Can Save Your Ass
It is time to get serious about this multicore thing. No, for real, this time.
In Praise of Openness
In my experience, the open approach, promotes open discussion, open experimentation, open solutions, and rapid growth. If you were looking for a market where the concept of "give a little and get a lot" works, you have arrived.
The Scent of the HPC Market
This week I'd like to take a look at the latest survey results. While the participation was not all that I wanted, it is enough to make sufficiently vague statements about the HPC cluster market.
Boxes and Bugs
What can we learn from the ants and bees? Perhaps something we can take something from the ants that may be helpful for clustering. If nodes were cheap and plentiful, then who cares? It would be kind of like stepping on ants: there always seem to be more.
HPC: It Is All About You
Trying to get a handle on the HPC community and market has always been difficult. The professional market forecasters seem to paint a rosy picture for HPC over the next five years. But, when I talk to people in the market, I often get a different take.
Adding Virtualization To My Anxiety Closet
Doug Eadline takes a break from his ranting about multi-core CPUs to rant about another technology that gives him fits: Virtualization.
Go Ask ALICE
It's time for the yearly batch of retrospectives and predictions. Count me in! Let's see, the big thing of 2007? Well, that had to be multi-core. And, the big prediction for 2008? Why that would be multi-core, once again. There, I'm done. Enjoy your year.
Parallel Programming is No Cheap Date
As 2007 fades away, I thought I would reflect on some of the HPC events of the last twelve months. Having thought about it, though, nothing really stands out in my mind as a big breakthrough or new paradigm shifting technology.
The Cost of Multi-core: Faster is as Faster Does
With all due respect to Forest Gump, defining fast is becoming a bit harder these days. And, yes, it has to do with multicore.
MPI on Multicore, an OpenMP Alternative?
No matter how you cut it, coding for multicore is really just parallel programming.Doug Eadline explains the differences between OpenMP and MPI, when it's smart to use existing code and when it's time to rewrite an application to scale better on multicore systems.
Dodging The Boot Heel of Technology
Earlier this year, my wife and I decided to finish our basement. Great! I thought I could finally set up a real office. I had just one thing to do before my office would become a reality — deal with the ghosts of systems past.
The Big Show
I am standing in the middle of SC07 (Supercomputing 2007). SC07 is THE HPC event of the year. 318 exhibitors have made the trek to Reno, Nevada for SC07, and scores of attendees are here for the week-long conference. If you're attending the show, you're probably not reading this because you're either completely exhausted, back-logged, depressed from losing your money at the casinos, still trying to get your shampoo back from the TSA agent at the airport, or some combination of the above.
The Multicore Programming Challenge
Harnessing the power of multicore processors is one of the largest challenges facing the computer industry today. Here we look at the challenges and some of the programming methods we can use to solve the problem.
Hamburgers, Beer, and Clusters
I find Pablo Picasso's famous response on computers, "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers," interesting and provocative. I also believe there is a grain of truth in that statement — namely, that it's really important to ask the right questions of computers. I have a hard time with the useless part, however.
Jonathan vs. The Roman Beauty
When comparing CPUs, you have to compare apples to apples. Doug Eadline compares the performance of AMD Opteron and Intel multicore processors to see which CPUs provide the best performance per core.
HPC Virtualization Fun
Back in the good old days of single core processors, when HPC clustering was in its infancy, getting the application as close as possible to the hardware was very important. In many cases, it still is. Communication between nodes could take place through the operating system by using TCP/IP or outside the OS using a userspace zero-copy protocol. With the exception of pinning down memory, the userspace protocol totally removes the OS from the communication. The result of userspace communication is better application performance thanks to better latency and throughput.
The Worlds Biggest Supercomputer? Yeah, Right!
A story floating around the Internet recently claims that the Storm email worm has created the world's largest supercomputer. I believe the genesis of this claim was this post on a security Web site. Are you amazed? Do we need James Bond to ferret out the evil villains? Hardly. Perhaps Austin Powers can handle this one.
Burning Money: Cluster Power and Cooling
As vendors strive for faster processors and denser systems, power and cooling has become a major issue for the HPC market.
HPC User Group (HUG)
Welcome to the NYCA-HUG
Strange Names for Strange Days
Explicit parallel programming presents special challenges for software developers. Now a new group of languages are coming online to address the compounded problem of multi-core processors on high-performance clusters.
The Luxury of Ignorance
Every time I talk about multi-core, I seem to start out with something like "back in the day" or "when things were much simpler," or some such lament. Now prepare yourself for a stunning bit of insight. Cue music.
The Donkey and the Assumption
HPC cluster optimization is often simple. Avoiding assumptions is hard.
Polls, Trends, and the Multi-core Effect
Clusters are getting larger, multi-core adoption plods along, and other findings from our recent HPC micropolls.
I Have (HPC) Issues
There I admit it. There are certain things that send me into long rants when it comes to High Performance Computing (HPC). (We'll skip the non-HPC issues for now). I'll bet you have issues as well. Those things that just bug you about the state of HPC clusters. Admit it, you do. There, don't you feel better?
What Are You Going To Do With Your FLOPS?
FLOPS are dirt cheap right now. How excited should you really be though?
Get More Out Of Your Cluster: Simple Steps To Boost Performance
In June of 2006 the Sandia National Laboratories’ 8960-processor Thunderbird Linux cluster was number 6 on the Top500 list. The system logged 38.3 TFLOPS and I'm guessing dimmed the lights a bit when it was running. Skip ahead to November 2006, and while there was some reshuffling of the contenders, Thunderbird managed to stay at the number 6 spot by achieving 53 TFLOPS. What happened?
Will You Still Need Me When I’m Sixty-Core? HPC and Multi-core
Now that all of the major processor vendors have introduced multi-core chips, the impact of this relatively new technology on high-performance computing should to be addressed. What will is the immediate impact on HPC application development? And what will "many-cores" ultimately mean for the future of the HPC cluster?
Cluster Urban Legends: Build Your Cluster With Facts Not Fiction
Just like there are "Urban Legends" that never seem to die, so it seems there are "Cluster Urban Legends" that persist even today. We have all seen or heard them. As a service to those entering the cluster HPC (High Performance Computing) community, we dispel some of the more popular tales. (Read: misconceptions.)
Some Relief For Cluster Consternation
What’s stopping clusters from being useful tools?
Multi-core Malaise
Confronting multi-core anxiety and what the new processors mean for the future of commodity clusters.
Dual-Core Calisthenics
Got performance? A simple test provides a peek into the AMD and Intel Dual-core processor designs.
Letting Go Is Hard
Welcome to No Disk Nirvana
A Nodal Philosophy
What’s on your nodes? Do you really need all that stuff? Uh, it depends.
The Art of Linux HPC Clustering
In case you haven’t noticed, the high-performance computing (HPC) market is now ruled by the Linux cluster. And while Linux clusters have made serious number crunching affordable, this disruptive change still has perils. Unlike more traditional HPC methods, a cluster presents a myriad of variables and trade-offs to the cluster designer and end-user. However, whenever there are choices that aren’t completely right or wrong, there is an opportunity for the artist and engineer to shine in all of us.
Explicit Implications of Cluster Computing
A hard to swallow conclusion from the table of cluster.
The Ignorance is Bliss Approach
Dynamic Parallel Execution: Loosing control at the high end.
SC05: Recess for Cluster Geeks
Off to see the wizards… of high-performance computing.
Wind On Down the Road
Developers, as Led Zeppelin said, “Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on…”
Hitting The Cluster Wall
Two months ago, the Kronos “value cluster” set a new record for price-to-performance, yielding 14.53 gigaflops at the cost of $171 per gigaflop. But is that the best Kronos can do? Or can some additional investment of time and effort push the extremes a little further? Discover if Kronos hits the proverbial wall, learning more cluster optimization techniques along the way.
A Stroll Down Concurrency Lane
With the introduction of multi-core processors, parallel programmers face a tough decision.
And The Survey Says
Quick, hand me the open source “clue stick.”
Life, The Universe, and Your Cluster
Getting the most out of your cluster is always important. But how exactly is that done? Do you really need to dissect your code and analyze every instruction to get optimal performance? Do you need to build custom kernels? Not necessarily. By testing some basic assumptions, you may be able to eke ten-node performance out of an eight-node cluster. Here’s how.
What’s in Your Cluster?
What are cluster builders up to these days? Cluster maven peeks into some machine rooms.
The Cluster Lego Starter Kit
Today’s basic building blocks are Intel and AMD servers and high-speed networks. Tomorrow’s toys? Let’s take a look.
Cluster Geeks, Unite!
Systems with multiple cores are just like clusters. But there’s good news, too…
Why Linux on Clusters?
Linux on high-performance computing clusters seems an obvious choice now, but it wasn't a forgone conclusion when Thomas Sterling and Donald Becker used Linux to build the world's first Beowulf cluster in 1999. Linux has come a long way since then. Learn why Linux has put "super" back into supercomputers.