PeakStream acquired by Google

Discussion in 'GPGPU Technology & Programming' started by B3D News, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. B3D News

    B3D News Beyond3D News
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    GPGPU middleware developer PeakStream has been acquired by Google, according to The Register. Where this leaves the GPGPU development platform is unclear, although it has stopped selling the product for the moment.

    Read the full news item
     
  2. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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  3. Tim Murray

    Tim Murray the Windom Earle of mobile SOCs
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    Nobody really knows. Obviously, Google is basically using parallel processing for *everything*, but how much GPGPU impacts them is unknown. Or, maybe I just missed some papers they've released.
     
  4. 3dilettante

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    I did not see that one coming.

    Sounds like a long-term investment with Google's eye on the expanding amount of data it intends to index/harvest.

    This sounds like there's going to be huge amounts data mining going on.

    With an owned subsidiary producing the tools, a lot of proprietary data can be more securely held, and any special things Google wants can be added.

    Of course, if they have that much money to burn, they could go whole-hog and buy AMD, or wait for the liquidiation sale.
     
  5. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    I wonder if they'll switch all their indexing servers to GPGPU now. . . man, that'd cause some heartburn at Intel. "This is war!", indeed.
     
  6. Killer-Kris

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    Last I hear PeakStream wasn't being designed exclusively for GPUs but would work on massively multi-core CPUs as well. They can still purchase what performs the best for any given workload, and I imagine within Google there would be use for both types of throughput processors.
     
  7. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    Sure, but what's ahead right now? What Google wants to do, as I understand it, has already been "pulled to the left" (to use Doug Carmean's language). Or at least natively rested there anyway. And while Intel obviously plans an "Empire Strikes Back" counter-offensive, it's still a bit in the distance. . . and it's not exactly going to catch anyone by surprise either (i.e. the gpgpu folks won't be resting on their laurels between now and then).
     
  8. Rufus

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    Google has more than enough experience with massively multi-core work. That's the entire point of their MapReduce library. The only reason they would buy PeakStream would be for GPGPU work.

    Now comes the question: what GPU is Google going to use? Peakstream already has a CTM backend so that looks likely, but I'm sure Nvidia would be willing to give some developer support if it means selling 1,000 or 10,000 cards.
     
  9. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    Last estimate I saw had Google at 450k servers. Tho my understanding is that is unofficial. Presumably they wouldn't turn them all over in two months or somesuch, but still. If that all went to one specific high-end GPU in a one year period. . . sweet Jaysus.

    If I'm Google I damn sure am going to make sure that backend supports both G80 and R600, because I want that bargaining leverage when I go shopping for high-end GPUs in the 100's of thousands of units. . . .
     
  10. Tim Murray

    Tim Murray the Windom Earle of mobile SOCs
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    I will predict exactly zero chance of that. Power consumption is too high, plus I doubt that they have THAT much work that can be done with a GPU. Simply having a data-parallel problem isn't enough; you need a decent algorithm (or enough of a speed increase using a worse algorithm) to make it worthwhile. And that's not always easy to do with a GPU, considering certain penalties (memory access, branching, etc).
     
  11. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    Frankly, the more I think about this. . . I'm getting actual chills. If this is a wholesale move by google to gpgpu. . . I just can't think of a more serious validation of the whole gpgpu idea. And that actually scares me a little bit. Even after everything else that's happened the last year more or less hinting that all the big players are taking this very seriously indeed.

    Why? Because there's a very old saying. . . "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." Because if you don't, he shall surely kill you. GPGPU is striking at King CPU in a very serious way now.
     
  12. Killer-Kris

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    Even searching IN pictures and videos?
     
    #12 Killer-Kris, Jun 6, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2007
  13. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    Err, what? Is it? What are the FLOPS/watt of high end CPUs vs high-end GPUs right now? If that was true, Peakstream wouldn't have been worth buying in the first place.
     
  14. Killer-Kris

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    The way I'm looking at this whole situation is that this might merely be a future investment so that they have ultimate flexibility to choose the hardware best suited for their tasks, hopefully with out much reworking between platforms. So for highly coherent tasks like searching within pictures and videos a GPU might be advantageous, while the tasks that their current cluster farm is doing might be better suited for a throughput CPU.


    Now obviously Google thinks they have something to gain through this purchase but I wouldn't be surprised if it was PeakStream who initiated it. After all life is much safer and secure when you are part of a large, growing, and profitable company. Not to mention it's a whole lot easier to try and break new ground in that situation as well.
     
  15. Tim Murray

    Tim Murray the Windom Earle of mobile SOCs
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    FLOPS/watt isn't the only consideration here. There are specific algorithms that you can use on a GPU versus a CPU, and even if you have 100x the FLOPS on a GPU, it won't mean diddly squat if you have to use some algorithm on the GPU that is a thousand times slower than your CPU algorithm. I have my doubts that the GPU is faster on a whole for Google's purposes, but there are certainly some things where it is faster. KK(ris, not utaragi) brings up an interesting point with regards to searching in video. I don't know too much about the algorithms used here (or if you even use traditional image comparison algorithms; maybe you use neural nets or something like that, which would certainly work well on a GPU). However, even with GPGPU, I don't know that they have anywhere close to the processing power to do this on a large scale.

    I'll do some research into that, though. I think there was a group working on this at CMU, and I'll try to track them down.
     
  16. MipMap

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    I think the point of Google buying Peakstream is not gpgpu, but to make all their parallel software hardware-independent - Since future hardware architecture is not 100% decided (as you can see by different approaches of Intel, Nvidia, AMD), the value of Peakstream is that they won't need to rewrite thousands of man-years of software when new hardware architectures become available.
     
  17. 3vi1

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    Ok, to me, this all makes sense.

    Why?

    Searching, financial calculations, genetics, image recognition and A.I. or as some people like to call them intelligent agents!

    Here is just a few of the things I've dug up.

    GPU-based Sorting in PostgreSQL - http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/ngm/15-823/project/Draft.pdf

    Bio-Sequence Database Scanning on a GPU - http://www.hicomb.org/papers/HICOMB2006-01.pdf

    Compute-Intensive, Highly Parallel Applications and Uses
    http://www.intelceleron.net/technology/itj/2005/volume09issue02/vol09_iss02.pdf
     
  18. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    Certainly if indeed Google has that many servers, then they have something to gain from this technology. And if they choose to eventually upgrade those servers to GPGPU technology, then the stock will soar. Also, if they choose this path and they didn't buy Peakstream but a competitor like Microsoft did, they could be in trouble. Each of these points individually make sense already, but altogether they make a whole manner of sense.

    It also reminds me that I think I read somewhere that Cell was pretty good at XML parsing and even certain fileserver duties (of the type where you are sure you can't keep that many in memory anyway). GPGPU and related streaming capabilities are definitely going to go somewhere in the future, that's for sure.
     
  19. Rufus

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    There's no way they can drop in GPUs to their current servers. Their current servers are just solid CPUs + RAM, no expansion slots of any sort. Plus they're 1U so there's no space to fit a GPU.

    If they're going to do any GPGPU, they're building a cluster from the ground up. The problem is with density. A standard 2U server will let you have 2 GPUs, but that's fairly lame (lots of wasted space). With 2 Quadro Plexs (3U together) and a 1U server controlling the pair you can have 4 GPUs in 4U, or with a GX2 style card 8 GPUs in 4U. 1GPU/U really doesn't seem very compelling. 2GPU/U does, but there is no GX2 G80 (yet?).

    Google must have done this as a fairly forward-looking purchase. The market simply is not mature enough at this point to go out and build a large (100+) GPGPU cluster. It'll get there fairly soon (especially if lots of money starts being thrown at problems), but we're talking on the order of a year or two out.
     
  20. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    An interesting question is whether Peakstream is now "off the table" and will exclusively be working on proprietary tech for Google's internal use, or if the cash being poured in will see Peakstream products available for the whole market at some point in the future.
     
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