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Five Questions for Alex Lesser, Vice President of PSSC Labs
Posted by Ken Farmer, Thursday July 20 2006 @ 09:21AM EDT

Five Questions with PSSC Labs Vice President, Alex Lesser

IRVINE, CA - July 20th, 2006 --Five Questions with PSSC Labs Vice President, Alex Lesser

Recently Ken Farmer of LinuxHPC.org sat down with PSSC Labs Vice President, Alex Lesser, to discuss current trends, market environment and future possibilities for HPC. Over the past several years PSSC Labs has delivered nearly 500 cluster solutions to the world’s most demanding organizations. The company has received tremendous support from end users, component manufacturers and even competitors.

LinuxHPC.org: Let’s get right to it. Microsoft recently introduced their cluster software solution. This has been in the works for some time and it is finally here. How do you perceive Microsoft’s offering and how will it affect the HPC market?

Alex Lesser: Yes it has been a long time coming. In the past we have spoken with David Lifka of the Cornell Theory Center to discuss Windows clusters. They are on of the few high performance computing groups with early involvement in Windows based clustering. Up to this point, Microsoft has just not had a solution that met the needs and price point of this market. Now, Microsoft may have an answer. There are some HPC applications requiring Windows however the majority of applications do require a Linux OS. This is a fact that may keep Windows clusters in the minority. If Microsoft truly wants to play in the space, I believe they will need to go to application vendors and convince them that the next generation software should run on Windows. Ultimately the market will decide Microsoft’s success in this niche space.

LinuxHPC.org: So will PSSC Labs be offering Windows based clusters?

Alex Lesser: PSSC Labs will listen to their market and decide what is best. On the very rare occasion we do have a request for Windows based clusters. We know the market potential is there and we do not really see a problem offering Microsoft based clusters.

LinuxHPC.org: What other current technologies do you see pushing the market?

Alex Lesser: Wow, my first reaction is almost every component of the market is pushing HPC. Just go back ten years and the idea of clustering a group of commodity components to make a parallel processing computer was in it’s infancy. Now clusters are everywhere. I believe the market is pushing commodity based computing, and PSSC Labs along with it, to a point where the traditional big iron companies are really shocked. Processors advanced by both AMD and Intel continue to improve power, scalability and efficiency. Memory density is no longer an issue. We recently delivered a PSSC Labs Octagon system with 128GB of memory. This is tremendous considering 512MB of memory was considered a substantial amount just a decade ago. Network architectures continue to improve and reduce the I/O bottleneck and lower latency. 10GigE and Infiniband clusters will become the norm very soon.

LinuxHPC.org: What are the potential pitfalls that may hurt the HPC market?

Alex Lesser: Personally I believe in the HPC market and the individuals in the HPC market. They're not your average group of computer users. This is the probably the most knowledgable and intelligent marketplace in any industry. The HPC community does it’s research, understands technology and makes intelligent decisions. I do not really see any glaring pitfall that can not be easily hurdled. However, I do believe that there should be warning issued. Like any burgeoning marketplace, vendors enter with the hope of immediate market share and higher margins. I have always believed that anyone can screw together a computer and ship it out. It is actually the ability to deliver and support a turn key HPC solution that separates the winners from the losers. I think end users need to understand the small amount of money they may save upfront by selecting a new or untested vendor may cost them thousands of man hours in the end. Ultimately I believe end users want to focus on their work and not managing a cluster.

LinuxHPC.org: Thank you for your time Alex. One last question. PSSC Labs has been offering HPC solutions for nearly two decades. What new products and solutions are you bringing to the market and where do you see PSSC Labs going from here?

Alex Lesser: I think my belief in the HPC market is fairly obvious. Ultimately PSSC Labs will listen to the market to better understand it’s needs and then produce a solution to fulfill those needs. Two examples I can see right away. First is our Complete PowerWulf Recovery solution. This is a hardware/software solution to immediately restore your PowerWulf cluster to it’s original factory settings. Mistakes do happen from all different angles. We want our end user’s to know we have a quick and easy solution to erase those mistakes. Second is our Octagon offerings. PSSC Labs has been very hesitant to bring a symmetric multi processor system to the market due to stability, support and cost issues. However we know that we have the answer. Since releasing the Octagon in the second quarter of 2006, we have seen tremendous interest and several purchases in all areas of HPC. Octagon systems currently support up to 16 processor cores and 256 MB of memory. It’s actually amazing. The HPC market is almost coming full circle with the types of SMP systems.

For more information about PSSC Labs please visit http://www.pssclabs.com. To contact Alex Lesser directly email alex@pssclabs.com

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