Intel® Cluster Ready Partner Newsletter Q1 2013 - Feature Stories

Taking Productivity to the Next Level

Announcing the winners of the 2012 Intel® Cluster Ready Partner Awards

By Kathleen Ellertson, Intel Cluster Ready Partner Communications

It’s been five years since Intel® Cluster Ready launched, and certified clusters now span designs ranging from a few nodes on a desktop to the upper reaches of the Top500 supercomputer list. The bigger story, though, is embodied by vendors that have integrated Intel Cluster Ready into their tools and workflows to help them deliver higher quality clusters faster and with less effort.

You can see this development clearly in the 2012 Intel® Cluster Ready Partner Awards, which the Intel Cluster Ready team presented at SC12 a few months ago in Salt Lake City. Attendees learned about how some of our most innovative partners are using Intel Cluster Ready to increase productivity and cluster quality. (They also learned about the Top13 Internet memes from the last few years. Remember LOL Cat? LeRoy Jenkins? The Numa Numa guy?...But that’s another story.)

We gave awards in three categories:

  • The Pathfinder Award honors vendors who have done the most to forge new paths. 
  • The Explorer Award distinguishes those who have continued to explore and implement programs that advance the portfolio of solutions based on the Intel Cluster Ready architecture.
  • The Voyager Award is for those who have contributed to expanding the global reach and overall market growth of Intel Cluster Ready solutions.

Before we get to the full awards list, I’d like to focus on two Voyager Award winners that shine a particularly clear light on how Intel Cluster Ready is helping vendors and customers be more productive and efficient: Atipa and E4 Computer Engineering. 

Atipa builds turnkey Linux clusters for universities and research organizations, including all the major labs for the United States Department of Energy. Atipa received its Voyager Award by offering Intel Cluster Ready certified clusters based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 family on the very first day the new processor hit the market. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Atipa’s Intel Cluster Ready participation. 

Atipa has integrated Intel® Cluster Checker into the Atipa Cluster Burn-In Suite (ACBS) and into its standard quality testing procedures for all Intel processor-based clusters. Atipa engineers use it to test hardware components, to verify the right libraries and tools are properly installed on all nodes, and to run performance benchmarks prior to tuning. According to Bart Willems, Senior HPC Engineer for Atipa, “Intel Cluster Checker is a major time saver. Testing all these applications in-house would take a lot of time, money, and resources that can now be spent on further product development and customer service.” 

Bart also notes that “most scientific applications use the same underlying tools and libraries, regardless of whether they are commercial or home-grown. So Intel Cluster Ready certification helps us ensure more reliable application performance even for our customers that don’t run registered software.” 

Next up for Atipa? A 3.38 petaflop supercomputer for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that it expects to ship in July of 2013. The cluster will include 1440 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon processors and two Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors. And it will be fully Intel Cluster Ready certified prior to shipment.

E4 Computer Engineering provides HPC systems and services to CERN and many other research organizations in and around Italy and has expanded to serve a growing base of industrial customers. E4 received its Voyager Award for being a lead Intel Cluster Ready launch partner for the Intel Xeon processor E5 family—but the company’s use and promotion of Intel Cluster Ready goes much deeper. 

E4 has integrated Intel Cluster Checker into its in-house cluster management tools and uses it as part of its standard build process. According to Simone Tinti, HPC Team Leader for E4 Computing, “We use Intel Cluster Checker to ensure quality and uniformity across nodes, which helps us provide a higher performing and more reliable cluster. We save a lot of time on the manufacturing floor and customer applications run more reliably. In fact, we’ve never received a support call for an Intel Cluster Ready certified cluster.”

E4 customers are starting to appreciate the value of Intel Cluster Ready. Many now ask for periodic health checks using Intel Cluster Checker and one recently requested recertification following an upgrade. These requests are no problem for E4 staff. It takes only about a half hour to run a full check, and they can do it remotely from the comfort of their own offices. 

Many other vendors are taking a similar approach to Intel Cluster Ready integration, and a few key partners are providing resources that help all of them do it more easily and effectively. For a bird’s-eye view of this evolution, here’s a list of the 2012 Intel Cluster Ready award winners—with a brief description of how each one is introducing new value to standards-based cluster computing.

Pathfinder Award Winners

  • Bright Computing played a leading role in developing Intel Cluster Ready Reference Designs for the Intel Xeon processor E5 family. By integrating Intel Cluster Ready into Bright Cluster Manager and making it part of the standard cluster build, Bright Computing has made it easier for both vendors and end-users to build, monitor, manage, and use certified clusters.  
  • IBM Platform Computing has helped to simplify and enhance almost every aspect of cluster lifecycle management by integrating Intel Cluster Checker and Intel Runtimes with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and IBM Platform Cluster Manager. The company also prototyped Intel Cluster Checker into Resource Manager and Monitoring tools, and provided Intel Cluster Ready Reference Designs for the Intel Xeon processor E5 family. 

Explorer Award Winners

  • Fujitsu integrated Intel Cluster Ready throughout its PRIMERGY server product lines, production workflow, and cluster software stack, and provided launch-day support for the Intel Xeon processor E5 family. Fujitsu also participated in the 2012 Intel Cluster Ready mid-market and ISV campaigns to further increase momentum for standards-based clusters. 
  • Silicon Mechanics has integrated Intel Cluster Ready into its technical workflows and sales processes and played a pivotal role in supporting the launch of the Intel Xeon processor E5 2600 product family. The company is breaking down implementation barriers by partnering with software vendors, such as Simulia and Flow Science, to deliver optimized, turnkey solutions based on the Intel Cluster Ready architecture. 
  • transtec has integrated Intel Cluster Ready into their technical production workflow and helped Intel ramp-up to the launch of the Intel Xeon processor E5 family. Transtec is also driving cluster standardization into the marketplace by offering the highest number of customer-oriented Intel Cluster Ready certified cluster designs. 
  • Warewulf and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory collaborated with Intel to create an open-source Intel Cluster Ready Reference Design. Based on Warewulf 3.3 and CentOS 6.3—and supporting the Intel Xeon E5 processor family—this tool automates the build of Intel Cluster Ready compliant clusters to simplify the implementation of reliable systems based on open-source software. 

Voyager Award Winners

  • Altair is not only delivering world-class software solutions for computer aided engineering (CAE), but also simplifying implementation for its customers. In 2012, Altair partnered with Colfax to launch turnkey cluster solutions for three of its Intel Cluster Ready registered applications: AcuSolve, RADIOSS, and OptiStruct; and also took the lead in defining an Intel Cluster Ready compliant solutions guide for RADIOSS. 
  • ANSYS is a founding partner of the Intel Cluster Ready program and has maintained registration for ANSYS Mechanical and ANSYS Fluent from the early days of the program. ANSYS provides in-depth input to Intel on future directions and provides dedicated business, technical, and legal resources to help ensure that Intel Cluster Ready standards are widely embraced.
  • Dassault Systems has integrated Intel Cluster Ready throughout its development and marketing programs and has registered the Standard and Explicit versions of Abaqus, a unified suite for finite element analysis. In 2012, Dassault upgraded their Intel Cluster Ready certified, end-user test drive cluster with the Intel Xeon processor E5 family. The company also began working with NorTech and Silicon Mechanics to deliver turnkey clusters based on the Intel Cluster Ready architecture.
  • Flow Science has been working with Intel for many years and using Intel software development products to continuously improve performance for Flow-3D, a leading computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solution. The company uses Intel Cluster Ready extensively to minimize installation and runtime issues, and recently partnered with Silicon Mechanics to launch turnkey cluster solutions that help to reduce deployment timelines even more. 
  • ICON provides expert services and support for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solutions. ICON FOAMpro, a customized CFD package based on open source technology, has been registered as Intel Cluster Ready from its very first release. More recently, the company has taken its Intel Cluster Ready participation to the next level by partnering with a wide range of OEMs and system integrators across many different areas.

That’s it for this year’s winners. I’d like to add my personal thanks to all of them. And thank you, as well, for helping to drive the HPC industry forward and contributing to the success of the Intel Cluster Ready program.

Coming soon:

Where in the World is Intel® Cluster Ready?

Global economic struggles don’t seem to be having much impact on the high performance computing (HPC) industry. On the contrary, continuing growth seems to be very much the order of the day. According to Dr. Stephen Wheat, General Manager of HPC at Intel:

“New vendors are emerging worldwide to tap into the expanding market; and others are moving up the food chain to deliver more comprehensive services and solutions. Many of these new and emerging vendors are just learning about Intel Cluster Ready—and they are quick to understand the potential it offers for smoothing their entry into the world of HPC solution delivery.”

You can learn more about Dr. Wheat’s travels and insights in the next Intel Cluster Ready newsletter. He’ll be discussing the shifts he sees underway in the global HPC marketplace in more detail, and he’ll offer his thoughts on how these changes may impact your business. Don’t miss it.

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