High Performance Computing (HPC) has been a vital tool for solving the world’s biggest and most complex challenges since the dawn of computing. HPC uses a high number of processors to work through problems such as sequencing genomes, nuclear physics, modelling climate patterns and economic forecasting. However, this information highway comes at a cost and HPC is renowned for being resource-heavy. Complex problems require more and more data processing power and HPC clusters can be increasingly expensive to procure, manage and maintain.
High Performance Cloud Computing (otherwise known as HPC2) mitigates many of these cost-related issues while maintaining the performance and output required. It’s fast becoming the go-to solution for the aforementioned tasks and is quickly revolutionising the way in which businesses and organisations approach other challenges and issues.
The challenges of the traditional HPC system
As for any requirement, it is important to buy the size of system that can handle the predicted project workload. However, within HPC workloads there can be vast differences between how much capacity is required. Sometimes the system could be running a huge simulation that could be classed as a workload peak, but at other times the workload would be greatly reduced.
Buying a HPC system that can handle the peaks means that for a lot of the time the system’s capacity will go unutilised but with no reduction in running costs. Alternatively, if the system is too small it may be fully utilised most of the time, but workloads will take much longer to process, and time-sensitive opportunities will be missed.
High Performance Cloud Computing (HPC2)
This is where High Performance Cloud computing (HPC2) comes to the fore. One of the benefits of a cloud based HPC system is that it removes the need for on premises hardware to manage/maintain and any major upfront investment.
In addition, rather than a project or challenge being limited by the onsite cluster capacity available, cloud-based systems have unlimited capacity that can be increased or decreased in minutes and/or scaled elastically, depending on the requirements. This allows users the freedom to experiment and push the boundaries of their projects without limitation.
Other benefits of HPC2 for business include:
- Cloud based systems open up HPC to medium or smaller enterprises that would find the huge infrastructure costs of an onsite system prohibitive
- Support and expertise are paid for as a service negating the need to employ IT managers to manage the data centre – time can be spent on achieving business goals rather than on hardware management
- Increased flexibility means more businesses can conduct research and use data insights to drive product development and increase revenue
- Predicting and simulating different business scenarios based on large quantities of raw data adds precision to business growth strategies which can inform future business planning in response to changes in the market.
With these benefits, it’s not surprising that HPC2 is playing a more significant part in our world.
Which sectors are using HPC2?
Financial services are subject to increasing regulation and scrutiny. Systems are required to fight cyber security breaches while dealing with vast numbers of online financial transactions generated by online shopping and banking.
High performance cloud computing hallows financial service organisations to handle thousands of transactions every second of every day while identifying fraudulent transactions in milliseconds.
HPC2 is also used for economic forecasting and modelling to predict future movements in the financial markets. Being able to react quickly to these changes by identifying trends and scenarios enables central banks and Government to take measures to help stabilise markets when needed.
Only a few years ago, a local seven-day weather forecast would have been considered, at best, an educated guess. However, the past few years have seen several technologies come together to enable these forecasts to now be considered 95% accurate. While of course vast improvements in global communications and satellite imaging are key components in this formula, HPC and HPC2 is the power behind this important development.
Weather prediction and climate modelling puts huge pressure on computing resources, requiring high numbers of processors and high bandwidth for transfers. Using HPC and HPC2 not only means an improvement in forecasting but also allows meteorologists to provide improved early warning systems for dangerous weather patterns such as hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and extreme cold fronts.
Our world energy supply is currently dominated by oil, using over 92 million barrels of oil per day. Through using HPC2 for data processing and high-resolution drilling simulations the sector is improving techniques for exploring new wells – saving a huge amount of resources and avoiding unnecessary drilling.
High performance cloud computing is also an important tool for the Wind Energy Sector. Simulations help predict wind patterns accurately, allowing planners to help site wind farms in the most effective places for generating renewable energy.
This type of system is also used to monitor and manage energy supplies, allowing power grids to react quickly to issues and to prevent power outages. The capture and processing of huge amounts of energy data also allows suppliers to model and visualise extremely complex energy systems; an important research area for the future of this sector.
Storage of large amounts of clinical data can be provided by cloud computing. Coupled with HPC2 processing power this allows researchers to analyse massive amounts of genomic data and identify the relevant and important genetic differences.
This type of system also allows clinical researchers to accelerate advancements in their fields by providing effective and powerful collaboration tools. These tools allow research centres based across the globe to easily share data and findings. This shared knowledge means researchers are no longer working in isolation.
The flexibility of HPC2 is a key benefit for the healthcare sector. This means more money can be spent on patient care, rather than on computer systems management. HPC2 also provides support for the move to electronic patient record system. Secure patient data reduces wait times and errors in clinical care. It also allows for improved communications between providers and patients, with patients able to access their records and updates quickly and easily.
NEC and HPC2
NEC has a long history in High Performance Computing, starting in the early 1980s and providing complex solutions since the 1990s. Our Research and Development teams work hard to keep NEC at the forefront of HPC innovation, working with the latest trends and collaborating with other research centres and universities to develop the most advanced systems available.
This year NEC is delighted to announce the development of a new mobile core solution for Amazon Web Services; one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive cloud platforms. This solution is based on NEC’s virtualized mobile core product and will also be offered to telecom carriers this year in preparation for rolling out 5G communications infrastructure.
HPC2 is the future
As you can see, HPC2 is enabling businesses and organisations to process complex functions more efficiently to achieve their desired goals and outcomes. With technological advancements growing by the day, HPC2 is sure to become more accessible and increasingly utilised in years to come.