Potential false economics in research

Article: Intel's Near-Threshold Voltage Computing and Applications
By: Robert Myers (rbmyersusa.delete@this.gmail.com), October 23, 2012 7:16 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
forestlaughing (forestlaughing.delete@this.yahoo.com) on October 23, 2012 10:56 am wrote:

>
> No, I think that's a very good summary of some of the issues here
> outside of the technologic and economic issues of building computers. There is a
> danger of making the problem fit the model, rather than the model fit the
> problem. That compounds the enourmous propensity for confirmation bias within
> scientific research. (Which I have observed to be present whether one is looking
> for tenure, or not) I'm not sure how to solve that problem, but the limited
> bandwidth of supercomputers is not alone among reasons researchers have a hard
> time accurately modeling physical systems. We should be skeptical about all such
> models, as we are of all scientific discovery.
>
> The only argument I'm not
> that interested in, is the one about how much influence linpack-numbers have on
> supercomputer purchasers. I think the issue of linpack != real performance is
> very well known within the industry. Yes the top500 list gets a lot of attention
> in the press. That said, Lindsey Lohan hitting a photographer gets 4 million
> times as much attention. It's not about the newspaper headlines. It's about
> getting work done for their users. Granted, a machine that gets a lot of work
> done for some high profile users, and leaves some lower profile users behind may
> be considered a winner, but you covered that already.
>

When the first Blue Gene was bought by LLNL, not only did whatever could possibly be done with wires and transistors (and cooling, and lots and lots of electricity) just barely fill the bill for a high-priority use, but it also, entirely by accident, I'm sure you will insist, vaulted the U. S. past Japan with its impressive Earth Simulator into the number one slot on the Top 500 list. Not only that, but it was claimed that the problem fit the wiring diagram of Blue Gene just perfectly. For someone who doesn't care, you certainly do leap quickly to the defense of our national decision-making apparatus, to which observation bias applies just as well if not better than to scientists.

Bandwidth and the FFT just happen to be convenient handles to grab onto to argue that, in the end, these machines are just Beowulf clusters with not all that impressive an interconnect. The problems with "nearest-neighbor" machines are many. The fact that I have picked on the ease with which one can always wire more nearest neighbors together to climb higher on the Top 500 list has now given you an easy out. The scalability problem has not been solved. People are building careers on machines that are conceptually trivial. We are reaching a point of diminishing returns in the value of sheer size even when it does work. Blue Gene is notoriously hard to program. If even doing a linpack benchmark is an unwelcomely arduous task, that should tell you something. You can claim to have responded adequately by using a false reductio ad absurdum, but you haven't really responded, because there is no response possible.

I responded angrily and privately to a Harvard Business Review article in which the author claimed that computers were a business case much like railroads. If some were good, more must be better. In both cases, it's a false proposition. The writer of the HBR article had more of a point than I gave him credit for. Railroads, at least in the manifestation in which they were regarded as the bluest of blue chip stocks, and Blue Gene style computers are both EOL.

Robert.
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TopicPosted ByDate
New article: Intel's Near-Threshold ComputingDavid Kanter09/18/12 12:26 PM
  Higher SRAM voltage and shared L1Paul A. Clayton09/18/12 02:38 PM
    Higher SRAM voltage and shared L1David Kanter09/18/12 05:20 PM
      Higher SRAM voltage and shared L1Eric09/20/12 10:44 AM
        Higher SRAM voltage and shared L1David Kanter09/20/12 12:24 PM
      Yes, that kind of asynchronousPaul A. Clayton09/20/12 02:53 PM
    Higher SRAM voltage and shared L1somebody09/19/12 09:27 AM
      So micro-turboboost is doubly impracticalPaul A. Clayton09/20/12 02:53 PM
  Big littleDoug S09/18/12 03:04 PM
    Big littleDavid Kanter09/18/12 04:05 PM
    Big littleRicardo B09/19/12 04:06 AM
  New article: Intel's Near-Threshold Computingdefderdar09/18/12 09:39 PM
    New article: Intel's Near-Threshold Computingtarlinian09/19/12 08:32 AM
      New article: Intel's Near-Threshold ComputingDavid Kanter09/19/12 10:44 AM
  New article: Intel's Near-Threshold ComputingMark Christiansen09/19/12 11:31 AM
    New article: Intel's Near-Threshold ComputingChris Brodersen09/19/12 12:54 PM
  New article: Intel's Near-Threshold ComputingEric09/20/12 10:47 AM
  Latency and HPC WorkloadsRobert Myers10/03/12 10:52 AM
    Latency and HPC Workloadsanon10/03/12 06:50 PM
      Latency and HPC WorkloadsRobert Myers10/04/12 10:24 AM
        Latency and HPC WorkloadsSHK10/08/12 05:42 AM
          Latency and HPC WorkloadsMichael S10/08/12 01:59 PM
            Latency and HPC WorkloadsSHK10/08/12 02:42 PM
              Latency and HPC WorkloadsMichael S10/08/12 05:12 PM
                Latency and HPC Workloadsforestlaughing10/15/12 08:41 AM
                  The original context was Micron RLDRAM (NT)Michael S10/15/12 08:55 AM
                    The original context was Micron RLDRAMforestlaughing10/15/12 10:21 AM
              Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Kevin G10/09/12 09:48 AM
                Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Michael S10/09/12 10:33 AM
                  Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?SHK10/09/12 12:55 PM
                    Why not SRAM? - CapacityRohit10/09/12 09:13 PM
                  Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Kevin G10/09/12 03:04 PM
                    Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Michael S10/09/12 04:52 PM
                      Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Robert Myers10/10/12 10:11 AM
                        Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?forestlaughing10/15/12 08:02 AM
                          Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?Robert Myers10/15/12 09:04 AM
                            Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?forestlaughing10/16/12 09:13 AM
                          Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?SHK10/16/12 08:12 AM
                    Latency and HPC Workloads - Why not SRAM?slacker10/11/12 01:35 PM
                      SRAM leakageDavid Kanter10/11/12 03:00 PM
          Latency and HPC Workloadsforestlaughing10/15/12 08:57 AM
            Latency and HPC WorkloadsRobert Myers10/16/12 07:28 AM
              Latency and HPC WorkloadsMichael S10/16/12 07:35 AM
              Latency and HPC Workloadsanon10/16/12 08:17 AM
                Latency and HPC WorkloadsRobert Myers10/16/12 09:56 AM
                  Supercomputer variant of Kahan quotePaul A. Clayton10/16/12 11:09 AM
                    Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 01:17 AM
                      Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/17/12 04:34 AM
                        Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 05:12 AM
                          Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/17/12 02:38 PM
                            Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 05:24 PM
                              Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/17/12 05:45 PM
                                Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 05:58 PM
                                Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 05:58 PM
                                  Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/17/12 07:14 PM
                                    Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 08:36 PM
                                      Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/18/12 09:47 AM
                                        Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/19/12 02:34 AM
                                          Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/19/12 04:47 AM
                                          Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/19/12 03:14 PM
                        Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteMichael S10/17/12 06:56 PM
                          Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/17/12 09:02 PM
                            Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/18/12 01:29 PM
                              Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/19/12 02:27 AM
                                Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/19/12 07:24 AM
                                  Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/19/12 08:00 AM
                                    Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/19/12 09:28 AM
                                      Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteanon10/19/12 10:27 AM
                              Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteforestlaughing10/19/12 10:26 AM
                                Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/19/12 07:04 PM
                                  Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteEmil Briggs10/20/12 04:52 AM
                                    Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/20/12 07:51 AM
                                      Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteEmil Briggs10/20/12 08:33 AM
                                        Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteEmil Briggs10/20/12 08:34 AM
                                          Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/20/12 09:35 AM
                                            Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteEmil Briggs10/20/12 10:04 AM
                                              Supercomputer variant of Kahan quoteRobert Myers10/20/12 11:23 AM
                  Latency and HPC Workloadsanon10/16/12 06:48 PM
                    Latency and HPC Workloadsforestlaughing10/19/12 11:43 AM
              Latency and HPC Workloadsforestlaughing10/19/12 09:38 AM
                Latency and HPC WorkloadsRobert Myers10/19/12 11:40 AM
                Potential false economics in researchPaul A. Clayton10/19/12 12:54 PM
                  Potential false economics in researchVincent Diepeveen10/20/12 08:59 AM
                  Potential false economics in researchforestlaughing10/23/12 10:56 AM
                    Potential false economics in researchRobert Myers10/23/12 07:16 PM
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