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Supercomputing Technology

Supercomputer As a Service 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-your-own-base-pair-matching dept.
gubm writes "Nearly one and a half years after making a stunning entry into the global supercomputer list with Eka, ranked as the fourth-fastest supercomputer in the world, Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a Tata Sons' subsidiary, has succeeded in creating a new market for supercomputers — that of offering supercomputing power on rent to enterprises in India. For now, for want of a better word, let us call it 'Supercomputer as a Service.'"
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Supercomputer As a Service

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  • Or (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rackserverdeals (1503561) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:54PM (#27558493) Homepage Journal

    Or, we could call it what everyone else is calling it. Grid computing or sometimes cloud computing.

    • Re:Or (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Samschnooks (1415697) on Monday April 13, 2009 @01:02PM (#27558615)

      Or, we could call it what everyone else is calling it. Grid computing or sometimes cloud computing.

      Or, we just call it what the old timers originally called it: time sharing.

      It fits. Just because it's over the internet as opposed to dedicated lines, I don't see why we need new terminology for basically the same thing.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by palegray.net (1195047)
        It isn't that we need new terminology, it's that (1) the masses are poorly educated on this topic with respect to history, and eat up media buzzwords, and (2) corporations exploit (1) to make it seem as though they're doing something much more impressive than they actually are.

        Not to be harsh or anything, but having all the computing power in the world isn't going to help Indian enterprises when their staff can't be bothered to speak English well enough to deal with the project teams they're trying to se
        • by dzfoo (772245)

          In their defence, most Indian staff speaks very good English. It's just hard to understand through the very thick accent.

                -dZ.

          • Re:Or (Score:4, Insightful)

            by palegray.net (1195047) <philip@paradis.palegray@net> on Monday April 13, 2009 @01:37PM (#27559155) Homepage Journal
            In my experience, I've met several Indian I.T. staffers who spoke flawless English, although you're right that sometimes the accent got in the way a bit. Unfortunately, I've dealt with far more who were completely unintelligible, and for whom writing comprehensible documentation that would pass a second grade English class is an impossible feat. That second point is more important to me than spoken dialogue.

            It's always been my biggest issue with outsourcing: I don't want to work with people who can't communicate well with others on my team. Nothing against the developers, but they're going to have to change if they want to continue to compete.
            • It's always been my biggest issue with outsourcing: I don't want to work with people who can't communicate well with others on my team. Nothing against the developers, but they're going to have to change if they want to continue to compete.

              You get what you pay for. If you're looking for cut-rate development, you're going to get developers missing at least one part of the puzzle (communication, knowledge, experience).

              There are plenty of Indian developers who have the whole skill-set... but they cost a lot

            • by Jurily (900488)

              Unfortunately, I've dealt with far more who were completely unintelligible, and for whom writing comprehensible documentation that would pass a second grade English class is an impossible feat.

              Oh, so you're in the UK?

              • US, actually. From what I understand it's worse in the UK. Perhaps all this new supercomputing power can be devoted to creating a Trek-esque universal translator.
                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by Jurily (900488)

                  Perhaps all this new supercomputing power can be devoted to creating a Trek-esque universal translator.

                  A telepathic fish is a much feasible idea. Remember, your translator has to decode Busta Rhymes too.

            • Then learn their language!

              How is it, that this never comes into the mind of your kind of people?

              • If the relationship were reversed, I certainly would :). I'd make sure I was fluent prior to attempting to work in their culture, however.
          • I worked with a lot of Indians in my previous job. The accent thing was a challenge. One day I remarked to an Indian coworker (who had a pretty thick answer herself), "I'm sorry to say this but I can't understand a word is saying."

            She replied cheerfully, "Oh! Don't worry! I do not understand a word he is saying either!"

            After that I never worried about it and just tried to be patient. After all, their English was better than my Hindi.
             

        • Not to be harsh or anything, but having all the computing power in the world isn't going to help Indian enterprises when their staff can't be bothered to speak English well enough to deal with the project teams they're trying to sell their services to.

          I wonder, is it possible that they have projects other than providing outsourcing to other nations?

          I agree with you on (1) and (2) though.

          • I would certainly hope they have good research projects that don't depend on outsourcing man-hours to other nations. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case with the vast majority of Indian I.T. shops. The bulk of them seem to be hell-bent on cranking out as many lines of PHP per diem as humanly possible.
        • by triceice (1046486)
          Mexicans that work at drive-thru's that can't speak good english and get you order wrong. Just because you don't understand their accent when they actually have learned more than one language doesn't mean anything
          • Just because you don't understand their accent when they actually have learned more than one language doesn't mean anything

            The inability to write documentation and participate in requirements discussions means everything. I don't care how many languages a person "sort of" speaks; if he can't write in fluent English, I don't want to work with him on projects where that's supposed to be a requirement. You don't see me running around trying to work with overseas firms where I don't speak the language.

            As I said in reply to another poster, I'm hoping they devote a healthy chunk of that new supercomputing power to developing a uni

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Abreu (173023)

        Yeah, but for a lot of people, the term "timesharing" involves sunny resorts, pina coladas and elderly couples doing the rumba...

      • I don't see why we need new terminology for basically the same thing.

        Something has to be different so they can patent it.

    • Or, we could call it what everyone else is calling it. Grid computing or sometimes cloud computing.

      I think the idea with those is that you have lots of "normal" computers on a "normal" network, whereas here you have one big computer. There should be different ratios of disk space to compute power, and CPU power to interconnect speeds and probably available RAM.

    • really? I thought we called it timeshare.

    • I'm going to put forward Cycles on Tap (CoT). I could type a long winded arguement for this term, but I figure if you like it, you'll use it.
  • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrameRotBlues (1082971) <framerotblues@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:56PM (#27558517) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this how it was done back in the day, with supercomputer time "leased" to companies who needed it?

    My uncle used to work for Minnesota Supercomputer Center and that's how he explained it to me; seemed pretty simple to my 12-year-old mind back then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by A. B3ttik (1344591)
      That's what we do at VT. [apple.com]

      Basically anyone, professor or student, commercial or non-profit, willing to fill out a sheet of paper can get Supercomputer Time. The damn thing is so fast that there's really nothing for it to do. It accomplishes every task very quickly, and ends up sitting around doing nothing half the time.

      I guess the difference is that people have to go to the facility to use it... they can't utilize it through a Web Service.
      • Oh, I'd knew a process that might fill up those resources.
        But you will train it to not kill us all, okay?

      • by FMZ (1178473)
        Just out of curiosity, can regular old outsiders book time on it, and is there an approval process for what task you wish to run on it? I'll bet it could process the hell out of some rainbow tables.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      but cloud computing sounds so much sexier and companies love it that their customers will have a very hard time leaving

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Warlord88 (1065794)
      I think its the only supercomputer in India. Hence the hype. I too think its natural for a supercomputer to give computing power on lease to others.
    • by hitmark (640295)

      or how about having one or more companies sponsor a university computer lab with a new warehouse sized toy, in exchange for access to it after hours?

    • Time Shared comes to mind. So where do I submit my stack of punch cards?

  • In Short: (Score:3, Funny)

    by KefkaZ (1393099) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:58PM (#27558549)
    Rent-A-Hal. "I'm sorry Dave, I've been repo'd"
  • by TheCycoONE (913189) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:58PM (#27558555)

    The idea is very old, and contrary to the article there are plenty of people offering similar services: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Rent-Your-Own-Supercomputer-for-2-77-per-Hour-82166.shtml [softpedia.com], http://www.hoise.com/primeur/00/articles/weekly/AE-PR-04-00-20.html [hoise.com], http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/reports/4590/2/ [linuxplanet.com], etc.

    Is their offering cheaper? Unfortunately the article didn't tell us.

    • yes, you are right -- when you say nothing new when compared to the world. But new, when you look at it in the Indian context. So, definitely worth taking a look at!
  • In all seriousness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by areusche (1297613) on Monday April 13, 2009 @01:13PM (#27558789)
    Isn't this what the Storm botnet and the conflicker botnet are doing already? Say instead of storm doing something useful like fold proteins, find ET, or pull us out of this financial mess couldn't a person with a lot of money use the botnets for a useful purpose instead of spam or a denial of service attack?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      Ideally these guys renting the supercomputer are more trustworthy than the guys operating the botnets. Not a legal expert, so I'm honestly asking: if you give storm your money and they don't give you the services you pay for, what recourse do you have? Even if they were to, say, figure out the protein structure of your favorite protein, would they then just sell it to the highest bidder after you paid for it?

      Could be amusing, Pfizer pays Storm a million dollars to determine the structure of a receptor imp

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        Not a legal expert, so I'm honestly asking: if you give storm your money and they don't give you the services you pay for, what recourse do you have?

        Don't buy their services in the future? No different than my legal recourse against any giant multinational corporation, that is, none other than don't shop there again.

        Note that organized crime tends toward providing services that require repeat business. Consider their offering prostitution instead of mail order brides, or addictive drugs instead of prescription antibiotics. Even "one time scams" are actually run multiple times. So this is not exactly a new business arrangement for crooks. Isolated l

    • by dkf (304284)

      Isn't this what the Storm botnet and the conflicker botnet are doing already?

      Not really. The supercomputers and high-end clusters used for this sort of service have much better (i.e., lower) inter-node latency than any botnet could ever hope to achieve, and there's a lot of problems out there that need that (only a minority parallelize as well as a typical BOINC task or botnet DDoS attack).

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Monday April 13, 2009 @01:16PM (#27558827)

    Its not only nothing new, we never stopped renting high-performance computing time. In some cases, it's ancient supercomputers that aren't all that super any more, but that the applications are so large and difficult to port to other machines, we just kept using them.

          Brett

  • by Aloisius (1294796) on Monday April 13, 2009 @01:20PM (#27558905) Homepage

    Supercomputing as a service is nearly as old as computers are. Granted they were called mainframes.

    Frankly I'm amused at how we seem to be regressing 30 years. I expect any day to see dumb terminals and a prognostication that soon the world will need only a few [cloud] computers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by meatmanek (1062562)
      As some folks have already commented, we're not regressing 30 years, any more than using an internal combustion engine (which has been around for about a century) is a regression. We're just using a technology we've been using all along. This is _not news_.
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      We already have. Imagine an endpoint with a simple engine in it for rendering forms. The application can upload a program in a forms description language to the endpoint describing what fields the form has, where they should be displayed on the screen, what types of data each field can contain and some simple rules for validing the field contents. The endpoint then displays the form and lets the user edit fields, applying the validation rules as each field is filled in or changed. When the user's done, they

  • by gapagos (1264716)

    ... could... not... resist....

  • No Beowulf cluster comments yet? I am shocked.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:30PM (#27560287) Homepage

    we forgot to call it a cloud, and put it in a grid configuration after we service oriented it
    to leverage our core concepts. obviously all the packets will fall out of it.

  • Better word? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:31PM (#27560313) Homepage

    For want of a better word? Um, guys, we have a better word for it: timesharing service bureau. We came up with it back in the 60s to describe a business that bought these hugely powerful, hugely expensive things called "mainframes" and sold access to them to customers. Customers could load their software and data onto the TSB's mainframes and run their programs there, paying for only the compute time they needed as they needed it. The TSB would also charge per kilobyte per month for disk storage (data and programs) and per minute for terminal connect time. Replace "mainframe" with "supercomputer" and you've got this new service (minus the connect-time charges since we're no longer using dial-up modems).

  • In addition to bad naming for timesharing, I nominate them for the bad naming of their corp entity - Computation Research Laboratories, or CRL, for supercomputing anything.

    Cray Research (CRI) or Cray Laboratories, anyone?

  • With the PS3 price cut looming, wouldn't it make sense to buy like 6 of those guys and Beowolf them? You can then rent out your computer to corporations and make back your investment ten-fold.
  • what do we europeans have to do to get a taste of that nice services?
  • I was involved with IBM's "Compute On Demand" initiative about 6 years ago, and people have been renting time on systems for quite some time (no pun intended).

    Sure, it's been refined many times over since the initial concept of time-sharing, but it's not a radical concept. What strikes me as humorous is that any time India does something, it's an innovation. I have news for you, my dear friends - there's just as many smart (and stupid) Indians as there are Americans. Their emergence into the mainstream I

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