TechEnablement has identified two game-changing “must watch” SC14 attendees: (1) Obsidian Strategics and (2) Iceland’s Landsvirkjun National Power Company. In combination, these two organizations have the potential to convert the worlds hunger for HPC and the Internet from climate destroying coal to renewable energy. As Jeff Goodell observed, “coal was supposed to be the engine of the industrial revolution, not the Internet revolution.” Simplistically, it might someday be possible to connect an Obsidian Longbow E-series device to your internal IB router and a dedicated (or shared with QoS agreements) fiber link to enjoy full IB connectivity and performance to a globally distant IB switch located in a data center in Iceland that runs off inexpensive hydro and wind power!
The Obsidian Longbow devices are a remarkable bit of engineering based on FPGAs (programmable so they can be field upgraded) and HMC stacked memory technology to give Infiniband networks full full-bandwidth encrypted connectivity at a global scale. According to Dr. David Southwell (the Obsidian Chief Visionary Officer and a YottaYotta co-founder), “a link between two Longbow devices can span the world three times without a repeater while providing fully encrypted 100 Gb/s IB bandwidth while introducing only 500 nanoseconds (billionths of a second) of latency including all encryption overhead“. The Longbow devices (and IB subnet manager that preserves the separation of IB traffic from multiple sources) provide a must have capabilities for globally distributed data centers.
At SC14, Obsidian partnered with the Intel Lustre team to demonstrate a speedup over conventional Lustre LNET Routers.
From the press release Dr. Southwell is quoted as saying,
“Once a major challenge, fast data migration between supercomputers is now as trivial as writing a data set from one machine into global storage and reading it from another. By implementing a Crossbow-based storage architecture into a multi-supercomputer site, all machines can share an extremely fast and large global storage pool. No longer siloed into InfiniBand islands, site-wide storage can be intelligently provisioned in one place, resulting in Capex and Opex savings as storage arrays are scaled for aggregate requirements.”
Three test phases are currently underway. The first is being conducted at three centers via the Singapore Singaren National R & E network. The second connects A*STAR’s Singapore Computational Resource Centre to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, which hosts the Tsubame-KFC machine. Finally, the third phase, scheduled for September, will test longer distances between A*STAR, Oak Ridge’s Titan, and Stony Brook University in New York. The group aims to reveal conclusive results during SC14 in November, when the trans-pacific 100 Gbps line should be operational.
- The Obsidian technology includes a programmable delay so testing can occur in-house as if the IB packets were actually traversing the globe. Dr. Southwell noted that customers who use this capability find no difference in behavior once they move out of testing to actually running in a globally distributed fashion.
- IBM has already certified Obsidian Longbow™ for use in synchronous disaster recovery (DR) applications over DB2 pureScale stretch clusters. (Click the link to see the IBM white paper).
- The Obsidian technology has already been battle hardened by the US military (albeit with custom extreme-security add-on encryption).
- Tgen has been using Obsidian technology in their bioinformatics pipelines to diagnose rare childhood disorders.
Iceland’s Landsvirkjun National Power Company
Iceland’s National Power company was at SC14 promoting NHPC, the Nordic High Performance Computing effort.
“Energy Price” are the two words words that summarize the benefits of locating a supercomputer or data center in Iceland. TechEnablement also notes that “Green Computing” are another pair of words that summarize the benefits of an Iceland technology base because the energy is 100% renewable.
The Landsvirkjun representatives also mentioned Iceland’s favorable tax structure and process for building permits and other government necessities. Along with an existing Icelandic workforce, companies are also encouraged to site their own people in Iceland to manage their data center and HPC investments.