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An Interview with Bill DeSimone, Senior Director, HPC Business Development at Absoft Corporation
Posted by Kenneth Farmer, Thursday January 05 2006 @ 12:52PM EST

LinuxHPC.org sat down at SC05 with Bill DeSimone, who recently joined Absoft Corporation, which is headquartered in Rochester Hills, MI. Before Absoft, Bill has held Product Marketing and Management positions at Hewlett-Packard and Compaq. Has been involved with the HPC market for a number of years going back to the Floating Point Systems hay day. Absoft celebrated its 25th year in business in 2005 and has been at the forefront of the Compiler, debugger, and software development tools market during this 25 year period. Absoft is an IBM Premier Business Partner and is also a member of Hewlett-Packard's DSPP program and has direct relationships with its HPC Division. Absoft also has strong relationships with Intel, AMD and Apple.

Q. What are some of the key issues you see customers of HPC systems facing? How can Absoft help HPC customers?

A. When customers decide to invest in a High Performance Computing (HPC) system, they need to consider the software as well as hardware ecosystem. One critical aspect of the software ecosystem is inclusion of the tools necessary to allow HPC customers to efficiently reuse existing software applications written in Fortran or C/C++ for HPC applications or to write new ones. Absoft offers such tools in a very easy to install and support format. The Absoft High Performance Computing Software Development Kit (HPC SDK) is the premier software tool kit for building and running high performance computing applications on clusters. Absoft's HPC SDK includes powerful, pre-configured tools that help you immediately compile, debug, run, and optimize high performance computing applications.

Q. Absoft's reputation providing superior compilers and software development tools is well known. What is Absoft specifically doing to help customers configure an HPC system solution?

A. Absoft recognizes that an HPC software development environment involves multiple components which need to work together. Based on this recognition Absoft has introduced a family of Software Development Kits which include an integrated, tested, and supported set of key development tools needed by HPC programmers. These kits are available for Intel, AMD, and IBM Power Linux cluster systems. By offering a complete SDK, customers need not worry about what to include and can get all they need from one source.

Besides the SDK's, Absoft continues to improve and evolve its compiler and other Absoft tools. Absoft recently announced V10 of the Absoft Fortran95 compiler. This new Fortran 95 v10.0 compiler is optimized for Intel EM64T Xeon and AMD Opteron 32-bit and 64-bit systems running Linux. Independently conducted public benchmarks show Absoft's new v10.0 compilers produce executable code on both Intel and AMD based systems that runs as fast as or faster than all competing compilers ( for detailed performance comparisons see http://www.polyhedron.com ). The same benchmarks indicate that Absoft Fortran v10.0 produces code that runs more than 140% faster than v9.0, and up to 20% faster than other commercial compilers in some cases. Absoft's new v10.0 Fortran compilers provide the best combined performance on Intel EM64T and Opteron in the Fortran industry.

Q. When you say "key components", what do you mean by that?

A. Of course Fortran and C/C++ compilers are fundamental. But in addition to that, programmers need optimized math libraries, an MPI library for message passing and parallel computation, a powerful debugger, and performance analysis tools. For example, the Intel Linux Xeon-64 Basic SDK includes F95 Fortran compilers from Intel and Absoft, a C++ compiler from Intel, Intel Trace Collector, Intel Trace Analyzer, the industry leading Absoft Fx2 Debugging Solution, the LAM/MPI implementation, the Intel MPI Library, and the Intel Cluster Math Kernel Library. These tools are pre-configured for full compatibility and interoperability. Support for all the tool components is handled by Absoft. So customers need only make one call for support for any of the tools in the SDK - Absoft.

In addition to the development components, the SDK includes Absoft’s Common License Manager (CLM), Common Installer (ACI), Modules Environment (AME) as well as numerous ready-to-compiler-and-run examples and benchmarks. These components make installation and licensing extremely simple. The SDK installs all of its components instantly and effortlessly - taking just minutes. After the 5-minute or less installation you can immediately begin compiling and running your application or the many useful HPC examples and benchmarks on your cluster or server.

Q. What do customers think of Absoft's SDK's?

A. Our customers are reacting positively to these products

B. "Over the years we have seen the number and variety of parallel programming environment products change, but few have delivered on the promise of end-user productivity as does the Absoft HPC SDK for Linux clusters." — George Delic, Ph.D., CEO, HiPERiSM Consulting, LLC

Q. Why does the Intel SDK include more than one Fortran compiler?

A. Absoft compilers are included as a component of the standard SDK to provide source compatible compiler solution across multiple architectures and operating systems. As compatible as compilers are, there are often performance differences by application and extra feature differences which you may want to exploit. So having multiple best-of-breed compilers in the SDKs gives the customer a solution with more compatibility, portability, reliability, and performance across a wider-variety of applications.

Q. What other HPC SDK's for Linux does Absoft offer?

A. The set of HPC SDK's for Linux include:

— HPC SDK Basic 1.0 for 64-bit Intel Xeon
— HPC SDK Enhanced 1.0 for 64-bit Intel Xeon
— HPC SDK Basic 1.0 for AMD Opteron with Intel tools
— HPC SDK Basic 1.0 for AMD Opteron with PathScale tools
— HPC SDK Basic 2.0 for IBM Power
— HPC SDK Enhanced 1.0 for IBM Power

The Enhanced kits for IBM Power and Intel Xeon include additional advanced tools from IBM and Intel respectively.

Q. Will Intel support Intel tools in SDKs which are run on Opteron, such as the HPC SDK Basic for AMD Opteron with Intel Tools?

A. Yes. The Intel tools included are the Intel C/C++ and Fortran Compilers as well as Intel MPI. We are currently shipping two SDK's for Opteron based clusters and servers. One is the Intel-based SDK for Opteron; the other is the Pathscale-based SDK for Opteron.

Q. What plans does Absoft have for the Windows HPC environment?

A. Absoft currently offers Absoft Pro Fortran Compiler Tool Kit for 32-bit Windows which is the most complete tool kit available for Windows Fortran developers. Included are both F95/F77 Fortran and C/C++ compilers, a powerful Integrated Development Environment, the industry leading Fx2 debugging environment, mathematical, statistical, and VAX/Unix libraries, graphics libraries and free technical support. Absoft Pro Fortran compilers generate superior 32-bit application performance on IA32/AMD32 processors including AMD Athlon, Intel P4, and Intel Xeon chips. Pro Fortran is fully compatible with Microsoft Win98-Win2k and .NET. A 64-bit version of Absoft Fortran is under development and will be available in early 2006

Additionally, Absoft may offer Windows-based HPC SDK's in 2006 as well.


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