High-Performance Computing (HPC) refers to the clustering of servers/computers together in order to solve problems too large and complex for standard computing devices to handle on their own. Characterized by its ability to facilitate extremely swift computational speeds (in the range of quadrillions of calculations a second), HPC is fit for a myriad of real-world business, educational and research applications. At eStruxture, we’re beginning to see increased demand for HPC coming from companies across a wide variety of verticals. As a result, we felt it was a good time to discuss what’s driving demand for HPC, what goes into it and how we are well positioned to support the HPC needs of clients now and into the future.
Trends Driving Adoption of HPC
You’ve likely already been using the term Internet of Things (IoT) to describe a world where humans leverage a web of interconnected devices, machines and appliances that can send and receive data without relying on human intervention. Well, join the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in using the term Internet of Actions (IoA), which describes an existence in which technology finally becomes a true, intelligent helper for humanity. At its core, IoA will be driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which, as you can guess, demands computing capabilities far greater than traditional servers and computers can perform.
Arguably, we haven’t yet uncovered the true potential of AI and, as a result, the IoA era is still in early years. However, as we progress towards it, Big Data has become more important than ever. After all, the strength of an AI application is rooted in the volumes of data with which its algorithms are trained. This is why demand for HPC is gaining traction. From AI algorithms to 3D visualizations and simulations, a growing number of organizations need the ability to process growing volumes of data in real time – all in the name of advancement and competitiveness. Here’s a short list of just some of the common applications HPC is used for:
● Aircraft Design and Testing
● Autonomous Vehicles
● Artificial Intelligence
● Environmental Modeling
● Financial Trading
● Film Rendering
● Game Development
● Medical Research
● Space Exploration
As you can see, HPC holds great potential for enabling technological innovations that can improve quality of life by leaps and bounds.
How does HPC Work?
Fundamentally, HPC relies on four aspects to work:
- An end-user with software and algorithms to run
- Servers grouped into multiple clusters for processing and computation
- Data storage to hold information input from the end-user and output information from the server clusters
- A fast, robust network to shuttle data throughout this system as fast as it is entered and processed
So, what powers the server clusters to run with the performance and speed HPC requires? Aside from Central Processing Units (CPUs), which are a core component of servers, an end-user has a choice between accelerating performance through either Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) or Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). When it comes to comparing the two, the answers get slightly complex. FPGAs can be conceived as algorithms programmed directly into hardware, which provides ultra-low latency and fine-tuning benefits over GPUs, which are run through software. However, GPUs possess competitive advantages of their own including the ability to run multiple algorithms simultaneously and a very fast memory, making them ideal for certain types of simulation and signal processing applications. As a result, choice of accelerator is often workload dependent.
When it comes to data storage and fast networks, HPC users attempting on-premise, proprietary buildouts run into challenges when it comes to power, space and cooling. As a result, given this problem of scalability, there is a growing move towards leveraging the cloud for HPC workloads. This is where eStruxture can help.
Why Partner with eStruxture
We design all our data centers to meet the needs of HPC hyperscale computing workloads. One of the most important, foundational needs for any HPC end-user is power. Energy is expensive and many organizations are not able to procure it in an affordable manner to power the large server clusters that go into an HPC build-out. As a pan-Canadian hyperscale provider of data center solutions, we offer power densities of 30kW a rack standard, or more upon request, in all our facilities. Thanks to some of the lowest power rates in all North America, eStruxture can solve the problem of scalability for HPC users from a power perspective. This is especially helpful for organizations that have already invested in HPC computing resources of their own but need to transition them off-premise.
When it comes to space, the cloud provides an excellent solution for organizations with ever-expanding workloads and data sets. For customers that might not already have HPC infrastructure of their own, we offer our own HPC Cloud Platform in our Montreal data centers. Thanks to partnerships with Dell, PureStorage, HP, Juniper and Brocade on the hardware side and VMware for virtualization, we can help our customers establish the cloud pods they need. We are also pursuing partnerships with other leading vendors (NVIDIA, DDN) in order to offer even more choice in terms of cloud design. As demand for HPC grows, we are evaluating the deployment of additional cloud pods in our other facilities across Canada. As well, our team continues to test a variety of distributed storage and infinite scalability solutions in order to provide even greater capabilities for our customers.
Whether you have your own HPC-capable equipment or a desire to run HPC applications via our Cloud Platform or the public cloud, our team of experts can help you make your decision. We will work with you to fully understand your needs, delineate the financial implications of each option and advise you on the most cost-effective solution.
When you want extreme scalability and flexibility for your HPC needs, eStruxture is ready to assist. Contact us for more information!