Many people associate high-performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing, with far-reaching government-funded research or consortia-led efforts to map the human genome or to pursue the latest cancer cure.
But HPC can also be tapped to advance more traditional business outcomes — from fraud detection and intelligent operations to helping advance digital transformation. The challenge: making complex compute-intensive technology accessible for mainstream use.
As companies digitally transform and steer toward becoming data-driven businesses, there is a need for increased computing horsepower to manage and extract business intelligence and drive data-intensive workloads at scale. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time analytics applications, often deployed at the edge, can utilize HPC resources to unlock insights from data and efficiently run increasingly large and more complex models and simulations.
The convergence of HPC with AI-based analytics is impacting nearly every industry and across a wide range of applications, including space exploration, drug discovery, financial modeling, automotive design, and systems engineering.
“HPC is becoming a utility in our lives — people aren’t thinking about what it takes to design this tire, validate a chip design, parse and analyze customer preferences, do risk management, or build a 3D structure of the COVID-19 virus,” notes Max Alt, distinguished technologist and director of Hybrid HPC at HPE. “HPC is everywhere, but you don’t think about it, because it’s hidden at the core.”
HPC’s scalable architecture is particularly well suited for AI applications, given the nature of computation required and the unpredictable growth of data associated with these workflows. HPC’s use of graphics-processing-unit (GPU) parallel processing power — coupled with its simultaneous processing of compute, storage, interconnects, and software — raises the bar on AI efficiencies. At the same time, such applications and workflows can operate and scale more readily.
Even with widespread usage, there is more opportunity to leverage HPC for better and faster outcomes and insights. HPC architecture — typically clusters of CPU and GPUs working in parallel and connected to a high-speed network and data storage system — is expensive, requiring a significant capital investment. HPC workloads are typically associated with vast data sets, which means that public cloud might be an expensive option due to requirements regarding latency and performance issues. In addition, data security and data gravity concerns often rule out public cloud.
Another major barrier to more widespread deployment: a lack of in-house specialized expertise and talent. HPC infrastructure is far more complex than traditional IT infrastructure, requiring specialized skills for managing, scheduling, and monitoring workloads. “You have tightly coupled computing with HPC, so all of the servers need to be well synchronized and performing operations in parallel together,” Alt explains. “With HPC, everything needs to be in sync, and if one node goes down, it can fail a large, expensive job. So you need to make sure there is support for fault tolerance.”
HPE GreenLake for HPC Is a Game Changer
An as-a-service approach can address many of these challenges and unlock the power of HPC for digital transformation. HPE GreenLake for HPC enables companies to unleash the power of HPC without having to make big up-front investments on their own. This as-a-service-based delivery model enables enterprises to pay for HPC resources based on the capacity they use. At the same time, it provides access to third-party experts who can manage and maintain the environment in a company-owned data center or colocation facility while freeing up internal IT departments.
“The trend of consuming what used to be a boutique computing environment now as-a-service is growing exponentially,” Alt says.
HPE GreenLake for HPC bundles the core components of an HPC solution (high-speed storage, parallel file systems, low-latency interconnect, and high-bandwidth networking) in an integrated software stack that can be assembled to meet an organization’s specific workload needs.
As part of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, HPE GreenLake for HPC gives organizations access to turnkey and easily scalable HPC capabilities through a cloud service consumption model that’s available on-premises. The HPE GreenLake platform experience provides transparency for HPC usage and costs and delivers self-service capabilities; users pay only for the HPC resources they consume, and built-in buffer capacity allows for scalability, including unexpected spikes in demand. HPE experts also manage the HPC environment, freeing up IT resources and delivering access to the specialized performance tuning, capacity planning, and life cycle management skills.
To meet the needs of the most demanding compute and data-intensive workloads, including AI and ML initiatives, HPE has turbocharged HPE GreenLake for HPC with purpose-built HPC capabilities. Among the more notable features are expanded GPU capabilities, including NVIDIA Tensor Core models; support for high-performance HPE Parallel File System Storage; multicloud connector APIs; and HPE Slingshot, a high-performance Ethernet fabric designed to meet the needs of data-intensive AI workloads. HPE also released lower entry points to HPC to make the capabilities more accessible for customers looking to test and scale workloads.
As organizations pursue HPC capabilities, they should consider the following:
Stop thinking of HPC in terms of a specialized boutique technology; think of it more as a common utility used to drive business outcomes.Look for HPC options that are supported by a rich ecosystem of complementary tools and services to drive better results and deliver customer excellence.Evaluate the HPE GreenLake for HPC model. Organizations can dial capabilities up and down, depending on need, while simplifying access and lowering costs.
HPC horsepower is critical, as data-intensive workloads, including AI, take center stage. An as-a-service model democratizes what’s traditionally been out of reach for most, delivering an accessible path to HPC while accelerating data-first business.
For more information, visit https://www.hpe.com/us/en/greenlake/high-performance-compute.html