Thursday, July 14, 2011

Supercomputing made super easy

I don't want to harp on about the same subject twice but I think what Hybrid DSP have achieved is something very significant. There are two basic problems when analysing very large datasets:
  1. Writing the code correctly.
  2. The performance (i.e. speed at which it runs).
The solution to the first problem is to use an easy to understand language that you are familiar with that enables you to write code at a high level. The solution to the second problem is to use the graphics card on your pc (or buy one for a couple of hundred pounds/dollars). Up until now, however, you couldn't do the two together - either you used a high level language and lost out on performance or you used a much more complicated and harder to understand language (Nvidia C) and got the performance gains from the graphics card.

Hybrid DSP's solution neatly solves this conundrum. By taking your code and compiling it into Nvidia C automatically we can have the best of both worlds. This opens up huge opportunities across a wide range of different problems especially in the field of data analysis.

For example, based on the results of the data mining competitions that I have entered, it seems inevitable that if you really want to squeeze the last ounce of accuracy from a forecasting technique you have to use machine learning approaches. These, however, have the very significant disadvantage that they almost always take a very long time to run. There isn't, though, a ready supply of GPGPU programmers available (at least not at a reasonable price point) who can convert accurately and fast working code into code for a GPGPU.

Now by using Hybrid DSP's product you can make a few minor tweaks to your existing code and get the benefits. To see just how simple it is you can read my post which contains so a description of how I converted some Kmeans code to run on the GPU.

So what this seems to give us (according to those who do these kind of comparisons) is a computer equivalent to the world's fastest supercomputer in 1996 sitting under our desks for around $300 that can be programmed in any of the Microsoft .Net languages (used by millions of programmers around the world). Thats got to introduce some signifcant new ways of doing things and problems that can be solved.

(Just for the avoidance of any sort of doubt - I have no financial or any other relationship with Hybrid DSP except that I use their product.)

1 comment:

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