Month: March 2021

HPE and NASA Launch SBC-2 into Orbit


To infinity and beyond! That’s where Microsoft and HPE are planning on taking Azure cloud computing as it heads to the International Space Station (ISS). 

On February 20, HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2), launched to the ISS onboard Northrop Grumman’s robotic Cygnus cargo ship. The mission will bring edge computing, artificial intelligence capabilities, and a cloud connection to orbit on an integrated platform. Spaceborne Computer-2 will be installed on the ISS for the next two to three years. It’s hoped the edge computing system will enable astronauts to eliminate latency associated with sending data to and from Earth, tackle research, and gain insights immediately for real-time projects.

Meet Summit: The IBM Supercomputer

HPE anticipates the supercomputer to be used for experiments such as processing medical imaging and DNA sequencing, to unlocking key insights from volumes of remote sensors and satellites. Also, in mind for HPE when the IT equipment was delivered to the ISS was whether non-IT-trained astronauts could install it and connect it up to the power, the cooling, and the network. If that went well, the next question was whether it would work in space or not.

This isn’t NASA’s first rodeo when it comes to connecting cloud computing services to the ISS. In 2019, Amazon Web Services participated in a demonstration that used cloud-based processing to distribute live video streams from space. Surprisingly, it isn’t HPE’s first time either. In 2017, they sent up its first Spaceborne Computer, which demonstrated supercomputer-level processing speeds over a teraflop. Spaceborne computing has come a long way over the years, and now is a perfect time for the Microsoft-HPE collaboration. Recently, Microsoft extended its cloud footprint to the final frontier with Azure Space.



Microsoft Support HPE’s Spaceborne Computer with Azure

Microsoft and HPE are partnering to bring together Azure and the Spaceborne Computer-2 supercomputer, making it the ultimate edge-computing device. Microsoft and HPE said they’ll be working together to connect Azure to HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2. The pair are touting the partnership as bringing compute and AI capabilities to the ultimate edge computing device.

Cloud Computing is Out of This World: Microsoft and SpaceX Launch Azure Space

Originally, HP and NASA partnered to build the Spaceborne Computer, described as an off-the-shelf supercomputer. The HPE Spaceborne Computer-2 is designed to simulate computation loads during space travel via data-intensive applications. By handling processing in space, we will be able to gain new information and research advancements in areas never seen before. The HP-Microsoft Spaceborne announcement is an expansion of Microsoft’s Azure Space initiative. Azure Space is a set of products, plus newly announced partnerships designed to position Azure as a key player in the space- and satellite-related connectivity/compute part of the cloud market.

Spaceborne Computer-2 is purposely engineered for harsh edge environments. Combine the power of the edge with the power of the cloud, SBC-2 will be connected to Microsoft Azure via NASA and HPE ground stations. HPE and Microsoft are gauging SBC-2’s edge computing capabilities and evolving machine-language models to handle a variety of research challenges. They are hopeful that the new supercomputer can eventually aid in anticipation of dust storms that could prevent future Mars missions and how to use AI-enhanced ultrasound imaging to make in-space medical diagnoses. 

Though SBC-2 will be used for research projects for two to three years, HPE and the ISS National Lab are taking requests. Do you have something you’d like to see measured in space? Let them know!


Nvidia Takes Shots at Crypto Miners – Limits GPU Hash Rates


Boy oh boy, there is a conflict developing between avid gamers and crypto-miners, and Nvidia is coming to the rescue. Nvidia, the chip company known for its gaming-friendly graphical processing units (GPUs) is in a pickle as crypto-miners are disrupting the market by hoarding the gaming chips for mining as opposed to gaming as they were intended. Of course, the massive increase in GPU sales is great for Nvidia, so why are they trying to settle the beef? It turns out that the company’s true consumers, the gamers, are feeling annoyed that the powerful chips are constantly out of stock.
Prior to the launch of its own cryptocurrency chip, Nvidia has been struggling with shortages of its gaming chips, which were being used to mine cryptocurrency. The better processing power of Nvidia’s GPUs has made the high-end processors target crypto-mining entrepreneurs, which has negatively impacted past Nvidia’s chip rollouts. That means that there’s usually a run on the chips when they first launch, as crypto-enthusiasts try to muscle out the actual target audience, the gamers. GPUs are good at performing cryptographic calculations, like computing hashes at high speed. This sort of algorithm is used at the heart of many cryptocurrency mining calculations.




Nvidia said it was taking an important step to help ensure GPUs end up in the hands of gamers with its GeForce RTX 3060 gaming processor launching February 25. Nvidia is programming the RTX 3060 software drivers to detect cryptocurrency mining algorithms and limiting efficiency, or hash rate, by about 50%, discouraging crypto-miners from buying Nvidia’s gaming GPUs.



Nvidia is limiting the hash rate on all GPU’s going forward


Nvidia released its highly sought-after GeForce RTX 3060 chipset, which includes a bonus for gamers foiling the crypto-mining agenda. Industry experts admire the effort of Nvidia to stay true to its consumer base but are uncertain the move will take the added pressure off of gamers and their setups. The GeForce RTX3060 software drivers have been designed to find specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, and limit the crypto-mining efficiency, or hash rate, by around 50%. It’s not that the performance of the chipset has been lowered, instead, the drivers will simply perform some form of throttling of Ethereum-specific use. Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency, behind the infamous Bitcoin.

In a nutshell, Nvidia will attempt to identify the code that is running and enact a denial-of-service action against software it thinks is trying to do Ethereum calculations on the GPU. This appears to be the most logical method given that calculations used for mining Ethereum have a unique signature that the drivers can easily identify. Nvidia’s anti-crypto drivers work by detecting memory usage that looks like an Ethereum algorithm and cutting the hashing speed in half.


Nvidia introduces a new crypto mining GPU


Although it seems as if Nvidia is favoring their loyal fan base of gamers, crypto miners need not fret. They’re also rolling out a chip that crypto-miners can call their very own. Nvidia announced a Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) product line to address the specific needs of Ethereum mining. CMP products are optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency. Even better, CMP products don’t meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU, so they won’t affect the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers. Overall fascination with Ethereum has soared in the past month due to the rapid rise in the value of Bitcoin. When Bitcoin appreciates it tends to lift other cryptocurrencies along with it. The recent rise in crypto-mania has resulted in the Nvidia chip shortage as miners are buying their powerful GPUs in bulk. The current lack of Nvidia’s graphics cards is intensified by persistent demand from miners. The consequence has been empty virtual and retail shelves, in addition to absurdly inflated pricing.

That’s where Nvidia’s CMP products will benefit. The key difference between the CMP products and typical gaming cards is that CMP products lack video outputs. Crypto miners seldom need displays attached to their systems. Usually, they plug multiple GPUs into a rig and manage everything through a web dashboard. Cryptocurrency mining is all about computing performance. If companies like Nvidia can quickly bring crypto mining cards to market, they’re all going to be readily consumed by small home operations and massive crypto mining farms.


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