FRμIT at the HiPEAC Systems Week

The FRμIT project ran a workshop on Micro-Clusters for High-Performance Computing at the Edge as part of the HiPEAC Spring 2019 Computing Systems Week in Edinburgh.

Jeremy Singer introducing the workshop Steven Johnston giving the keynote talk

The workshop started with a keynote talk given by Steven Johnson from the University of Southampton about "(H)edge-Performance Computing". Steven discussed PiStack based clusters for edge computing, and in general the goals and utility of power-proportional edge compute infrastructure based on clusters of commodity single-board computers.

Following this there was a show-and-tell Micro-Cluster beauty contest, featuring lightning talks on various clusters including the Wee Archie system from Edinburgh and a FRμIT cluster including a PiStack board and the FRμIT operating system, showing federated login using the FRμIT system to a high-density single-board compute cluster.

Following the coffee break, I took part in a panel discussion, along with Steven Johnstone, Anna Lito Michala (Glasgow Caledonian University), and John Goodenough (Arm). The focus of the panel discussion was on understanding the physical constraints on edge clusters, the use cases and application limits for edge and in-network applications, the novel programming models, and the economics and deployment scenarios for edge and in-network compute infrastructure.

The workshop concluded with brain-storming future scenarios for edge compute and computing in the network, exploring the gaps in the necessary software services and infrastructure. Conclusions from the panel and open discussion are that there are compelling use cases, around cyber-physical systems, latency reduction, and maintaining data privacy, that require edge compute, but that we do not have the necessary software and programming models to effectively manage such infrastructure, deploy applications, and account (bill for) usage of the resources. Existing DevOps tools, cloud software stacks, and the programming models underpinning them all assume reliable, well-managed, infrastructure with central administration, provisioning, and control of compute, network, and hardware resources—none of which exists in edge and in-network compute infrastructure once outside the data centre.