October 19, 2011
This week Jeff Ehrlich interviewed Bill Magro, director of HPC software at Intel about how the cloud will deliver high performance computing to small IT shops that never imagined they would have access to high-end resources.
Magro argues that “commercial shops will likely adopt HPC systems in greater numbers once a few technical and commercial barriers are eliminated.” He also notes that contrary to popular opinion, HPC has indeed moved beyond the academic setting to include a number of small to mid-sized enterprises. He says that “HPC systems are often run within engineering departments, outside the corporate datacenters, which is a factor in why IT professionals don’t see as much HPC in industry.” He says that in any case, well over half of HPC is in industry currently—and the proportion will continue to grow as smaller enterprises find new ways to use HPC.
The concept of small to medium sized businesses finding ways to access and use HPC resources is one that has become a centerpiece for organizations like the Council on Competitiveness, which argues there is a large “missing middle” for HPC. In simple terms, this middle includes those not at the top end (academic institutions and laboratories).
When asked whether or not the “killer app” to reach the missing middle in HPC is cloud computing, Magro says that “Cloud is a delivery mechanism for computing; HPC is a style of computing. HPC is the tool, and the cloud is one distribution channel for that tool.” He says that cloud can help to increase overall HPC adoption, “but new users need to learn the value of HPC as a first step.”
Nonetheless, he does see a clear path for clouds increasing the commercial adoption of HPC, even though there are still some technical barriers. As Margo stated, “If you look at Amazon’s EC2 offering, it has specific cluster-computing instances, suitable for some HPC workloads and rentable by the hour. Others have stood up HPC/Cloud offerings, as well. So, yes, a lot of people are looking at how to provide HPC in the cloud, but few see cloud as replacing tightly integrated HPC systems for the hardest problems."
Full story at Intelligence in Software
Researchers from the Suddhananda Engineering and Research Centre in Bhubaneswar, India developed a job scheduling system, which they call Service Level Agreement (SLA) scheduling, that is meant to achieve acceptable methods of resource provisioning similar to that of potential in-house systems. They combined that with an on-demand resource provisioner to ensure utilization optimization of virtual machines.
Experimental scientific HPC applications are continually being moved to the cloud, as covered here in several capacities over the last couple of weeks. Included in that rundown, Co-founder and CEO of CloudSigma Robert Jenkins penned an article for HPC in the Cloud where he discussed the emergence of cloud technologies to supplement research capabilities of big scientific initiatives like CERN and ESA (the European Space Agency)...
When considering moving excess or experimental HPC applications to a cloud environment, there will always be obstacles. Were that not the case, the cost effectiveness of cloud-based HPC would rule the high performance landscape. Jonathan Stewart Ward and Adam Barker of the University of St. Andrews produced an intriguing report on the state of cloud computing, paying a significant amount of attention to the problems facing cloud computing.
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