Year after year, the technological advancements that pervade and enrich our daily lives continue to surprise and excite us. High-powered technology is proving that the future is now, from artificial intelligence sitting on our countertops (we’re looking at you, Alexa) to our touch screen-controlled Tesla sedans.
High-performance computing (HPC), also known as parallel computing and supercomputing, pools data processing power to produce efficient, dependable, and quick results. To put it another way, high-performance computing pushes problem-solving to new heights.
What Is High-performance Computing?
High-performance computing is the practice of using parallel data processing to improve computing performance and perform complex calculations (HPC). HPC achieves these objectives by pooling computing resources, allowing even the most complex applications to run efficiently, reliably, and quickly in accordance with user requirements. As a result, it has far greater power and performance than traditional computers, workstations, and servers.
High-performance Computing Applications
When used for commercial and industrial applications, HPC offers numerous advantages and value. There are five types of applications that can be categorized:
- Fundamental Research: Fundamental research aims to improve scientific theories in order to better understand natural or other phenomena. HPC enables more complex simulations, which can lead to game-changing breakthroughs.
- Design Simulation: Industry can use design simulation to improve product design and digitally test their properties. It enables businesses to limit prototyping and testing, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective design process.
- Behavior prediction: Companies can predict the behavior of a quantity they can’t influence but rely on, such as the weather or stock market trends, using behavior prediction. Because of their superior computing capabilities, HPC simulations are more accurate and can look further into the future. It’s especially important for weather forecasts and predictive maintenance.
- Optimization: Optimization is a common HPC application. It can be found in a variety of professional fields, ranging from portfolio optimization to process optimization to the majority of manufacturing challenges.
Although the actual benefits realized can vary from system to system, the main benefits of HPC are speed, cost, a flexible deployment model, fault tolerance, and total cost of ownership.
- Speed: Fast calculations are synonymous with high performance. The speed of an HPC is determined by its configuration. More clusters and cores, in other words, enable faster parallel processing. The software that runs on the machine, including the operating system and application design, as well as the complexity of the problem being solved, have an impact on performance.
- Save Money: Businesses that have faster processing capabilities can deliver results faster and save money. This can make a significant difference in profit margins for business owners. While there is an initial investment in the system, the benefits in processing and productivity frequently outweigh the cost of setup.
- On-premise or Cloud: HPC can be housed behind a corporate firewall or offered as a cloud computing service. The latter has the advantage of the elasticity, allowing compute resources to be scaled up or down as needed. Some cloud providers also let users choose which CPUs or GPUs to use, allowing them to tailor compute resources to the needs of a specific project.
- Fault Tolerance: If a component of the system fails, the entire HPC system remains operational. Given the compute-intensive nature of HPC workloads, fault tolerance ensures that computations continue uninterrupted.
- Total Cost of Ownership: Manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve the ROI of their designs due to competitive pressure; however, the sticker price is only one component of TCO. If the HPC is on-premise, the total cost includes power, cooling, and maintenance. Cloud vendors tout TCO as a benefit because customers do not have to pay for the ongoing procurement, operation, and maintenance of HPC resources. They only buy the resources that they use.
Why is High-performance Computing Important?
High-performance computing is important because it provides a way to use data to solve problems that humans would otherwise be unable to solve. HPC has important applications in our daily lives that go beyond enabling the study of the universe, such as:
- Fraud Detection: An algorithm must analyze millions of transactions in real-time, as well as the information surrounding those transactions, to accurately detect fraud in the financial services industry. HPC has the potential to automate this process and save businesses millions of dollars.
- Medical Record Management: Doctors and nurses now have access to an unprecedented amount of patient data, which could theoretically help them make better diagnoses and treatment plans, as electronic health records (EHRs) have become more common in the medical field. HPC systems can handle and analyze this data in ways that traditional computing systems can’t, allowing medical staff to spend more time working with patients instead of inputting and organizing data.
- Weather Prediction: The amount of computing resources required for accuracy is one of the challenges of weather prediction. The complex partial differential equations used to express the physics of weather, as well as the massive amount of weather data collected by satellites, can be handled by high-performance computing.
- Race Car Optimization: Small design improvements can make a big difference on the race track, so engineering competition between design teams is a big part of Formula 1. These teams use high-performance computing in fluid dynamics analysis and refinement to determine where their cars can be optimized while staying within the FIA’s constraints.
- Speed: HPC can perform massive calculations in minutes rather than weeks or months thanks to the latest CPUs, graphics processing units (GPUs), and low-latency networking fabrics such as remote direct memory access (RDMA), combined with all-flash local and block storage devices.
Future of High-performance Computing
When you look at the speed and capacity of supercomputers over the last five years, you can see how quickly they’ve progressed. High-performance computers’ future will be focused on efficiency or making more with less. HPCs have a bright future in biosciences, climate modeling, geographic data collection, and a variety of other fields. Supercomputers will be used to edit feature films and broadcast live around the world. HPCs will help scientists find renewable energy and analyze future and past universe evolutions, which will strengthen research labs. HPCs can even be used in the medical field to develop disease cures and diagnoses that are faster and more accurate. High-performance computers have a bright future ahead of them, and it’s unfolding right before our eyes.
High-performance computing is the use of multiprocessing and supercomputers to run advanced and sophisticated application programs. By combining administrative and computational methods, the system aims to create parallel processing systems. The high-performance computing (HPC) industry arose in response to the growing demand for processing power. Because HPC brings together various technologies such as computer architecture, algorithms, system software, programs, and electronics under one umbrella, it can solve complex problems quickly and efficiently.