What is High Performance Computing?

The acronym HPC (High Performance Computing) refers to the ability to process data and perform complex calculations at high speed. The HPC solutions can perform millions of billions of calculations per second, one of the best known is the supercomputer that exploits parallel processing, i.e. thousands of computing nodes that work together to perform one or more tasks.

The evolution of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), 3D imaging and the need for large sizes and quantities of data that organizations have to work with is increasing exponentially. Thus having the possibility of real-time data processing is essential for many purposes: streaming a live sporting event, monitoring certain climatic conditions, testing new products or analyzing stock values.

But what is the operation of HPC based on? On three main components:

  • Computing: to have high computing performance, the servers are connected to a network and use mass parallel computing, therefore they exploit from tens of thousands to millions of processors or processor cores.
  • Network: A cluster of computers, also referred to as HPC clusters, with a centralized scheduler that handles the parallel computing workload. Computers (also called nodes) use the CPUs and GPUs suitable for rigorous calculations with very high performance. Each cluster can contain 100,000 or more nodes.
  • Storage: After the cluster runs the software programs and algorithms, it connects to a storage system via the network to acquire the result.

To achieve the maximum performance, each component must be synchronized each others. If one component fails to keep up with the others, the performance of the entire HPC framework suffers.

In most cases HPC solutions are created for workloads such as AI, machine learning and deep learning and are used in different industries for different purposes:

  • Research laboratories: support scientists in analyzing the evolution of the universe, predicting and monitoring storms and developing new materials.
  • Media and entertainment: used for film editing, creating dazzling special effects renderings and streaming live events around the world.
  • Energy sector: facilitates the search for renewable energy sources, precisely identifies the points where to drill for the fields and their modeling, terrain mapping, processing of seismic data.
  • Financial Services: In addition to automating trading and fraud detection, it powers applications in Monte Carlo simulation and other risk analysis methods.
  • Health sector: develops treatments for diseases such as diabetes and cancer; allows you to give a faster and more accurate diagnosis for patients; in healthcare for drug discovery and design and molecular modeling.
  • Design and control: supports the design of new products, simulate test scenarios and check the availability of parts in stock to keep production lines running.

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