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Defining High-Performance Computing

This post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent Industry Perspective, Empowering Agencies With High-Performance Computing. Download the full guide here

Overcoming these challenges starts with understanding what high-performance computing is and what distinguishes this technology from other IT infrastructures already in place at federal agencies.

HPC is more than supercomputers, although advances in super-computing drive HPC. According to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), “the speed of the world’s fastest supercomputers has increased by a factor of roughly a half million over the past 23 years, an extremely rapid transformation that no other industry has experienced.” HPC includes the full infrastructure needed to take advantage of these advances in computing speed.

The differentiating factor of HPC is that it represents a different type of computing architecture. Generally, an enterprise IT infrastructure approaches compute power, networking and storage as three different silos. With HPC, the walls between these silos crumble to reveal a single computational cluster—a huge computing resource given to a single job for a very specific length of time. The benefits include improved performance, better cost management, a reduced data center footprint, agility and flexibility.

The ITIF report cites key benefits of HPC technology that make it indispensable to federal agencies:

  1. Each step-change in HPC represents an order of magnitude change unlocking new applications or the better use of existing ones.
  2.  HPC is transforming the scientific method itself with the intro- duction of computational simulation.
  3. HPC will be needed to handle the tremendous growth of data.
  4. HPC represents an avenue to address the erosion of Moore’s Law, at least for high-performance systems.
  5. Declining prices and increasing capabilities are making HPC systems available to more institutional and commercial users, including small to medium-sized enterprises.

To successfully implement HPC, you must first understand the challenges involved. In the following section, we discuss each specific challenge as it pertains to the federal government.red-hat-150x57

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