When it comes to high performance computing, the future is closer than you think. Transformative technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain systems are supported and enabled by high performance computers. Application of HPCs has recently yielded unprecedented results in the field of protein folding, using AI to solve a problem that has stumped scientists for more than fifty years.
Unlike edge computing, which focuses on maximizing data storage and operations on phones and PCs—making driving instructions available and effective offline, or caching media from a streaming service temporarily on a personal laptop to create a seamless playback experience—high performance computing is all about powerful processing and utilizing the cloud. First, We’ll dive into the basics of high-performance computing. Then, we’ll look into its history before we explore future predictions for this disruptive technology.
What is high performance computing?
The computer on which you are reading this article is not a high-performance computer. You can use your fingers to count the number of CPU cores it contains. It will be able to process billions of calculations per second, outperforming every human being in arithmetic, but it will not be able to defeat Lee Sedol in a game of Go.
A high-performance computer contains thousands of CPU cores, all of which communicate effectively with one another to perform quadrillions of calculations per second. In November 2021, TOP500 named the Supercomputer Fugaku, with 7,630,848 cores, as the highest-ranked HPC and the Lenovo C1040, with 57,600 cores, as the lowest-ranked. Of course, harnessing a few million CPU cores together does not automatically make an HPC. The Lenovo, the Fugaku, and all 498 HPCs in between have efficient interconnectivity between their cores. Thus, allowing them to perform massively parallel computations at a rapid rate.
Examples of high performance computing applications include developing COVID-19 vaccines, engineering climate change simulations, and making breakthroughs in genetic research. And these are only a small sample of the way that HPC systems are revolutionizing science and engineering. The possibilities for high-performance computing systems are endless ! Before we look at the future of HPC, we should understand how it all began first.
How did HPC start?
The development of high-performance computers was a target long before tech companies set their sights on PCs. IBM’s Stretch Supercomputer and Manchester University’s Atlas logic module competed for the honour of world’s fastest computer throughout the early 1960s, before the CDC 6600 blew both systems out of the water with its ability to execute 3,000,000 instructions per second.
Innovations in computer performance were powered primarily by finding new ways to cram as many computing components as possible onto smaller and smaller boards until heat removal became the limiting factor in the 1970s. The Cray supercomputers were installed in a liquid immersion cooling system that was instrumental in the race to outperform their competitors, despite being physically smaller However, their performance was unreliable, and they were ultimately discontinued.
Parallel processing emerged in the 1980s and became the primary method for improving HPC performance. Engineering interconnective systems that could coordinate operations as well as performing discrete calculations opened the door for innovations in artificial intelligence and real-time stock trading. Improvements in HPC systems continue to disrupt the market to this day, driving decentralization of data storage, machine intelligence, and cloud computing technologies.
High-performance computing vs. cloud computing
Cloud computing is often mentioned as an example of high-performance computing. It would be more correct to consider cloud computing as supported by high-performance computing as a service. When pushing data and operations to the cloud, hosting servers will be high performance computers. They must have the capability to perform highly scalable, massively parallel processing to manage high volumes of data from diverse sources.
What is the future of high-performance computing?
Experts in HPC and artificial intelligence solutions predict that the future of high performance computing will include improvements in scalability and computing power. Improvements through hardware and cloud computing, along with a possible convergence with quantum computing systems.
The number of computing nodes will likely increase in future HPC systems. Successful implementation of cloud-based input and output technologies stand poised to influence high-performance computing trends. Larger workflows require more compute power, but they also call for a streamlined approach to managing data input and output. When this is outsourced to the cloud, the efficiency of the third-party providing data I/O as a service must be assured before it becomes a bottleneck.
In the future, the sustainability of high-performance computing will be as much a concern as its scalability. With essential industries relying on these services, their continuance must be assured for generations to come.
Environmental concerns and waste management
The benefits of high-performance computing are immense. Greater data storage capacity, scalability, and cloud computing support are just the beginning of the laundry list of advantages a high-performance computer can offer.
However, high-performance computing systems do have a downside. They consume large volumes of energy and emit huge amounts of waste heat. High-performance computing services, like Schneider Electric, are already seeking to address the environmental impact of their technology by building green data centres and optimizing for energy efficiency.
High-performance computing as a service
A major trend in high-performance computing involves selling it as a service. Are you looking to offer your clients cloud data storage ? Or the opportunity to run compute-heavy workloads on an HPC system without having to buy one themselves ? If yes, you are selling high performance computing as a service.
But you need massive warehouses for thousands and thousands of servers if you’re going to sell HPC as a service—right? If you’re operating on a smaller scale, you can still deliver a quality product.
Why should you invest in high density servers and install them in a sustainable IT infrastructure ? The answer is simple : to provide flexibility to your clients and add scalability to your business plan.
The ORION high density server product line offers the highest density of computing cores on the market. This means that the installation should be in a smaller space, such as an urban server farm. You will also stay competitive with service providers who have more square footage available.
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