Book Review – Contemporary High Performance Computing

Yesterday I received my copy of Jeff Vetter’s new book, Contemporary High Performance Computing and while I have not read all 702 pages from cover to cover yet, this book is a great way to quickly come up to speed on the current landscape of HPC if you don’t have time to fly around the world and visit the 21 HPC centers highlighted in the book.

Saying this is Jeff’s book is a bit misleading, as he was only the editor (and of course the one with the idea). Most of the book is composed of overviews of 18 top HPC sites and 3 HPC/Cloud initiatives. Jeff does give an introduction to trends in HPC, followed by a chapter on the HPC Challenge benchmark suite by Jack Dongarra and Piotr Luszczek and a chapter on the Green 500 list.

With the DoD’s TI-13 RFP due this month, vendors bidding on this year’s proposal might want to spring for 1-day delivery on Amazon and read Chapter 6, Supercomputing in the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program by John West.

Of course, I particularly enjoyed reading Chapter 7 on the Keeneland Heterogeneous GPU system and Chapter 20 on TSUBAME2.0, both HP supercomputers. Chapter 11, Supercomputing at Moscow State University was a treasure trove of Russian history starting with the Strela supercomputer installed in 1956.

Other chapters cover such notable HPC systems as China’s Tianhe-1A system, of course Blue Waters and Titan get their own chapters, as do systems at NASA, SDSC, PSC, and the French Tera 100 system. Now a question I have to ask Jeff the next time I talk to him is why Tera 100 was selected for the first systems chapter? Could it be because Paris has the best croissants?

If you are at all interested in modern day supercomputing, I highly recommend this book. Given how fast the technology in HPC evolves, it should make equally interesting history to pick up and look at 10 years from now!


About Marc Hamilton

Marc Hamilton – Vice President, Solutions Architecture and Engineering, NVIDIA. At NVIDIA, the Visual Computing Company, Marc leads the worldwide Solutions Architecture and Engineering team, responsible for working with NVIDIA’s customers and partners to deliver the world’s best end to end solutions for professional visualization and design, high performance computing, and big data analytics. Prior to NVIDIA, Marc worked in the Hyperscale Business Unit within HP’s Enterprise Group where he led the HPC team for the Americas region. Marc spent 16 years at Sun Microsystems in HPC and other sales and marketing executive management roles. Marc also worked at TRW developing HPC applications for the US aerospace and defense industry. He has published a number of technical articles and is the author of the book, “Software Development, Building Reliable Systems”. Marc holds a BS degree in Math and Computer Science from UCLA, an MS degree in Electrical Engineering from USC, and is a graduate of the UCLA Executive Management program.
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