Wow! Supercomputing was completely back to normal. Vendor participation was incredible. All the booths were back to being well-staffed with engineering and technical personnel and top executives vs. only sales and marketing staff. All the name-brand tech companies were well represented; however, notably missing was NVIDIA's gigantic booth. NVIDIA did throw some support into a few partners, but amazingly they chose to skip exhibiting. With this type of buzz and attendance around in-person tradeshows, it is surprising that GTC in the Spring is planned to be a virtual-only event.
Each year you can see the advancement that AI is making in the HPC field. Neary every AI accelerator company was well represented. Cerebras, Sambanova, Graphcore, AMD/Xilinx, and Groq all had fairly large booths with their smartest people present and upfront instead of hiding in remote rooms. LightMatter and TensTorrent were present in smaller booths but, for the most part, without the engineers. Intel had Habana in a big separate booth, but from what we could tell there was not much traffic. There were also quite a few new Inference-only card companies showing off their products. Not as many as there were at the AI Hardware Summit, but a surprising amount of AI hardware and people talking about AI use cases across the entire show floor.
Still, NVIDIA was represented quite well, as there is a major shift in vendor support for the bigger GPU boxes and that was clear around the show floor. The NVIDIA A100 NVLink HGX platform was limited to 4 to 5 suppliers. But, there were 8 or 9 companies talking about and showing off the latest NVIDIA H100 8-GPU servers at Supercomputing. Notably, there is a wide range of form factors on the H100 as well vs. the A100 systems. Manufacturers are opting for 5U, 6U, 7U, and lots with 8U servers, with most companies talking about launching with air-cooling, but following with Direct-to-Chip liquid versions at a later date. In general, there was lots of alternate cooling across the show being displayed as well.
Lots of buzz for CXL (Compute eXpress Link). The CXL "Pavillion" was way too small and very crowded. If you're new to the CXL trend, you can read a great article about it here.
Overall, I believe attendance was at about two-thirds of normal, but it seemed busy and well-attended. Very few casual attendees and most were very engaged in booths rather than aimlessly walking around looking for swag. I was impressed with the attendance and it really was a great show. One of the few times when I thought, "I should have been here an extra day."
How about you? Leave a comment below and let us know what you thought stood out at SC22 this year.