Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2020 Predictions, Get it?!

Shiny Crystal Ball

It’s our first episode of 2020, yay! The first that was recorded in 2020 anyway.  It's a predictable 20/20 joke (more of a meh comment really) but the topic today is... PREDICTIONS. More specifically, it's our predictions of what’s going to happen in the next year. We may not always be correct, but we think maybe we’re always certain. We look at compute, interconnects, security, and general innovations:

Compute

Dan says that we’re going to have more of it. Henry predicts that we’ll see a RISC-V based supercomputer on the TOP500 list by the end of 2020 – gutsy call on that.  This is a double down on a bet that Dan and Henry have, so he’s reinforcing his position. Dan also sees 2020 as the “Year of the FPGA” when we start to see more and more HPC boxes fueled by FPGA, which is something Shahin mostly agrees with while Henry disputes it. We also touch on liquid cooling and process size as part of this topic.

Interconnects

Dan thinks that InfiniBand will announce 400 GBs interconnect by the end of this year – a bold prediction. On a communications note, Henry says that 20% of the US user base will have access to 5G phone coverage by the end of the year. Shahin asserts that only 3% of the market will actually buy it, but Dan and Henry say not so fast – it’ll be closer to 10%. Shahin is looking for a 5G connection for servers. Not as an interconnect, but more as a WAN or a cluster that spans an entire county. On another note, Shahin believes that HPE will formally get into the interconnect business, selling the Slingshot interconnect.

Security Trends

Dan says we need more of it but doesn’t see anything that’s going to move the needle back towards the users. Jessi thinks that security education has improved things security-wise and that will continue in 2020. Henry and Dan disagree. Jessi is adamant.

Innovation/Trends

Dan pegs in-memory computing as a field that will blossom over the coming year(s). Shahin agrees that in-memory is very interesting and ripe for innovation as well. But he also sees a lot of developments in the AI processor space. Henry talks about a new application workflow that will go something like this:  Object > MemMap > Compute on the MemMap file/data > back to Object, with no POSIX in the way. Shahin also sees more quantum supremacy in the news in the coming year.

Letter(s) to the Editor!

We discuss our first letter to the editor, from a listener who wasn’t a fan of the episode where we answered Jessi’s question about why tape is still used. His term for that feature? “Poor.” This prompted Shahin to quip, “I’m surprised we don’t get more of these…..”  Please keep those comments (good, indifferent, or critical) coming, our email is podcast@radiofreehpc.com.

Why Nobody Should Ever be Online. Ever.

This week, Henry doesn’t have a “Reason Why No One Should Ever Be Online. Ever.” He was offline all week, so thus doesn’t have anything to scare us with.

Catch of the Week



Henry:  has no catch, his net came up empty.

Shahin:  was practicing Catch & Release this week, so his creel is fishless.

Jessi:  discusses her new phone. She lost her old one in a Czech toilet (nasty, yikes). This is her first phone upgrade since junior high school – probably 6-7 years – and she’s agog at how the phones have advanced. She can now take pictures and use apps. Yay Jessi!

Dan:   Encourages listeners to have a good year and to let us know what you think via email (podcast@radiofreehpc.com) and twitter (@radiofreehpc). He also highlights the new RadioFreeHPC logo along the way.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Quantum, Quantum, Quantum


 This episode was recorded back in 2019 but then the holiday episode had to go out during holidays and cut in line, messing up the cogs of the well-oiled machine that is the RFHPC production process. Regardless, the episode starts out with Henry being cranky. It also ends with Henry being cranky. But between those two events, we discuss quantum computing and Shahin’s trip to the Q2B quantum computing conference in San Jose. His walkaway, as someone else put it, and he quotes: “Quantum computing is overhyped and underestimated.”

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of activity in quantum, with nearly every country pushing the envelop outward. One of the big concerns is that existing cryptography is now vulnerable to quantum cracking. Shahin assures us that this isn’t the case today and is probably a decade away, which is another way of saying nobody knows, so it could be next week, but probably not.

We also learn the term “NISQ” which is a descriptive acronym for the current state of quantum systems. NISQ stands for “Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum” computing. The conversation touches on various ways quantum computing is used now and where it’s heading, plus the main reason why everyone seems to be kicking the tires on quantum:  the fear of missing out.

It’s a very exciting area, but to Shahin, it seems like how AI was maybe 8-10 years ago, so still early days.

Why Nobody Should Ever be Online. Ever.

Henry lays out a dizzying scenario where hackers contact a person, telling them that their credit card is about to be used by an unauthorized party and advising them to call the police. When the person calls the police, the hackers intercept the call and, while pretending to be the authorities, extract personal details, credit card numbers, etc. This is possible because the hackers have taken over the telephone switch. Ouch, scary stuff.

But to finish out the year on a high note, Henry touches on reasons why people should be online, which was, well, nice.

Things You Think You Know, But Maybe Don’t.

In keeping with the theme of the show, Jessi asks for a quickie intro into quantum computing, why it’s such a big deal, and how it will really be used. Shahin obliges with a discussion of a vast array of quantum stuff, even including a reference to Schrodinger’s half-dead cat. He also discusses how quantum can provide exponential speed ups over traditional computing and the promise of quantum in the future.

Catch of the Week

Dan has managed to catch the team catching their catch:




Henry’s net was empty this time.

Jessi:  Brings up how Emotet malware hackers are using high-school environmental activist Greta Thunberg as a lure to infect users with Emotet and other malicious software. The hook is in the form of an attachment, “Support Greta Thunberg.doc”, which, when opened, will launch a malicious macro that downloads the Emotet Trojan and executes it. Nasty stuff. https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/emotet-malware-uses-greta-thunberg-demonstration-invites-as-lure/

Shahin:  Never one to leave well enough alone, Shahin brings up quantum computing yet again by discussing a quantum comic strip (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) that does a great job of explaining quantum concepts in cartoon form. What’s next? Using sock puppets to explain HPC? http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-talk-3

Dan:  In the interests of time, Dan skips over his lame Catch of the Week.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Holiday Episode (video): Family Dinner at RFHPC

It's become a tradition at RadioFreeHPC to celebrate the holidays with a video of the holiday episode. The new logo launches the video: celebrating a truly family style dinner and dreaming big (maybe too creatively, however) as the team exchanges "if-only" gifts!

Click here to see the Director's Cut version of the video followed by the edited audio-only in the usual link below.

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

South Africa CHPC National Conference

SA Students Get Ready to take ISC by storm


Probably 15% more scintillating than usual, Dan promises as he calls this episode "fantastic"!
Now a 5-day conference with two days of workshops as book-ends, multiple tracks and many speakers, and yes, a very exciting Student Cluster Competition, the CHPC National Conference has developed into a very important event in the HPC/AI world.  Dan takes us through what he saw, who won, and what we can expect at the competition at ISC in 2020, and just how impressive the whole thing was. You've got to hear it.


Why Nobody Should Ever Be Online. Ever


The Big Easy Battles Big Bad Breach: in a segment that wants to be shortened to "Ever.Ever.", Henry focused not just on yet another cybersecurity incident (the ransomware attack on New Orleans), but on the fact that they city, to its immense credit, actually had a plan! Once the problem was detected, plan kicked into action, systems were shut done, damages narrowed if not avoided, and generally good progress on preparedness was on display. Nice job!

Things You Think You Know, But Might Not


Anyone remember tape drives? Some of you do. Some of you work with them now. Well, Jessi asks about tape storage. Is it still necessary? This is very much in Henry's wheelhouse so he covers it. Shahin seems unconvinced, really, but Henry is way closer to actual use cases, so he reluctantly waves it through!

Catch of the Week


Shahin: Covers the RISC-V Summit that was just held in San Jose. With 2,000 attendees, 435 member companies, lots of great talks, and expecting to grow by another 50% next year, and for something that started only in 2010, it's quite a flywheel that's forming. Also, remember that we had the pleasure of having the RISC-V Foundation CEO, Calista Redmond as a special guest of the podcast, so make sure you listen to that episode.

Shahin also notes that the media coverage of the chip space is starting to show that competition is brewing. Comments from vendors about other projects are sounding sharper and sharper!
He also says RISC "started" at Berkeley and Stanford. "What he meant to say" was modern RISC got its big boost there. He says he's fully aware of the history of RISC going all the way back to Turing, Cray, Flynn, IBM 801 (and we cut him off, convinced already!)

Dan: Speaking of sharper competition and what people meant to say: in an interview with CNet, Apple's top brass made a comment about Chromebook vs Apple gear that's also in the category of "what he meant to say was...". Henry skillfully segues into how more and more services are cloud based, and Jessi highlights the importance of the bring-you-own-device (BYOD) trend in schools.

Jessi: Goes over the US Government Accountability Office report on on airline IT outages. Just what you need for the holiday travel season. "One IT malfunction per month" is one stat you can remember.

Henry: The great $50m African IP address heist. IPv4 addresses are in demand and an enterprising person in Africa has parlayed that into a $50m windfall for his crafty self.  Upshot is? You should all consider gifting IPv4 addresses for the holidays!

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Friday, December 13, 2019

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!

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

SC19 Student Cluster Competition - Recap

 SC19 Student Cluster Round Up

The show starts in the usual way, with Henry complaining about snow and us laughing at him. Our special guest, student clusterer extraordinaire Jessi Lanum, complains about recording again with Henry in a definite shot across his bow, to everyone’s amusement.

The group discusses their annual SC19 dinner and the new Henry/Dan bet about the future of RISC-V – check out our last show for the specifics.

We talk about our experiences at SC19, including Henry having to give 19 different presentations in a two-day span, which was a very solid performance. Shahin touches on his annual Dead Architecture Society meeting and the great attendance. We also discuss how many active listeners of Radio Free HPC came up to us – and none of them were armed or threatening at all!

The meat of the show is our discussion of the SC19 Student Cluster Competition. We talk about the student configurations, kicked around the pros and cons of the “small is beautiful” movement in the student cluster competition world. "Does the trend towards fewer-bigger nodes mean a re-emergence and eventual re-victory of SMP over MPP?" wonders Shahin. No records in HPL or HPCG, but some good scores regardless. (It's not proven that the high altitude in Denver was not a factor!)

You’ll have to listen to the show or read Dan’s articles in HPCwire or on www.studentclustercomp.com to get the details – it’s probably a good idea to do both just to make sure you’re fully up to speed.

Why No One Should Ever be Online. Ever.

Henry talks with real anger and sadness about a horrific story of a chain of nursing homes that was attacked by ransomware. These nursing homes now don’t know what medication should go to which patient along with a lot of other problems. Everyone agrees that these malicious criminal idiots are getting worse and that something needs to be done about it pronto.

New Feature Alert!

Things That People Think They Know, But Maybe Don’t

Jessi Lanum’s “Things that people think they know, but maybe don’t” is a new feature on the big broadcast. In this inaugural edition, Jessi asks “What is Exascale and why is it important?” The guys all respond and cover her question like ants on a dead possum.

Catch of the Week

Henry:  Notes that the new Star Wars script was almost sold on Ebay after being filched from a careless actor. Sheesh, is nothing private anymore?

Jessi:  Found a company that is using HPC, AI and WRF to help fight forest fires, which is great, given the wildfire season we’ve seen this year. Shahin also highlights the work at UC San Diego.

Shahin:  The newest Crypto500 ranking is out! Bitcoin has taken over the crypto currency world by latest count, see the white paper here, the slides here, and the Medium article here.

Dan:  Dan’s Catch of the Week is dedicated to you, our faithful set of 16 listeners. He lets you know we’d love it if you reach out to us via Twitter or email to let us know what you like, what you don’t like and what we should cover in the future.

Along those lines, right now, before listening to the episode, open up a new tab on your browser and follow us on Twitter. We’re @RadioFreeHPC and as you know, our email address really should be ears@radiofreehpc.com, because we're all ears you see, but for now it is podcast@radio... We'd love to hear from you. Oh, and you can now find us on Spotify and Google Play in addition to iTunes! See below for all the links.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

New TOP500 List: Spot The Difference

Live from SC19

In this Breaking News edition of RadioFreeHPC, we look over the newly released TOP500 list in all its glory. We talk about the changes in this version of the list (100 new systems, but none in the top 24), how the major countries stack up against each other, and vendor system share.

We also discuss why this list is so, well, kind of not as exciting as we've got used to, and what we expect to see on future lists. There are some big things coming, but, like your birthday, they’re not here yet. In other conversation, we covered what we’ll be looking for and doing at the show. It’s a no frills episode, done quick and dirty, just how we like it.

Oh, and Henry and Dan find something to new to bet on!

"What Should I Do Next?", You Ask?

Right now, before listening to the episode, you need to open up a new tab on your browser and follow us on Twitter. We’re @RadioFreeHPC and this will ensure that you get the latest news and views from us.
Have a comment? Complaint? Question? Topic? Guest? We’re all ears. Our email address really should be ears@radiofreehpc.com but for now it is podcast@radio... We'd love to hear from you.

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