How high-performance computing underpins an IT environment

Rick Koopman

Monday 13 June 2016

Rick Koopman, EMEA HPC and Hyperscale Technical Leader, talks about Lenovo’s plans for ISC High Performance, which runs over 19–23 June in Frankfurt, Germany.

By drawing on the computing power of several machines, high-performance computing (HPC) allows us to analyse and organise vast amounts of data while tackling and solving complex problems. These are solutions that could transform the way we live our lives.

HPC has the potential to unlock radical innovations that will affect almost convery kind of business around the world, and have a positive impact on a range of industries and areas of specialisation – from science and medicine to economics and engineering.

Such a pioneering field has its own conference, and Lenovo will be one of its main attendants.

Exploring recent developments

ISC High Performance (ISC-HPC) is a leading HPC conference in Europe; the second biggest in the world. The event hosts attendees representing organisations from all over the globe – academia and research, industry and media; all interested to learn more about recent developments in compute-intensive and big data applications.

The ISC 2016 event offers everyone a great opportunity to connect with people in the know and get insights into the latest advancements in HPC. And there have been plenty of those lately!

Hyperscale, for one, is a very hot topic at the moment, and on a technology level very close to HPC, since big compute centre users demand the ability to deploy architecture that scales up appropriately as increased demand is added to the system.

How the technology trickles down

But HPC has many more applications. In fact, a lot of the technologies we use today in an enterprise environment, as well as many office IT solutions, have their roots in HPC. Cloud computing, for example. Many organisations have their applications deployed in the cloud, and to be able to do that, those cloud providers need load-balancing file systems. Capabilities like that were initially developed within HPC around 10 to 15 years ago.

The same applies to data analytics, which is another area that is in high demand at the moment. Real-time data analytics with huge amounts of data requires an IT environment that is able to support it. The technology capable of doing all of this comes from HPC, where the in response to workload growth was first identified and tackled.

So even if you haven’t heard of HPC, the chances are you’ve used technologies or capabilities that originated within it.

Working with technology that doesn’t yet exist

HPC is really the racing arm of Lenovo – everything we do is aimed at high performance. But just like in Formula One, everything has to be lean and mean, and at the same time, very reliable. Everything has to scale from small to large seamlessly, without any technical bottlenecks.

On the first day of ISC-HPC, Lenovo will be running a business partner workshop, where partners will be informed about what the plans are for the coming years. HPC engagements often have a very long lead time – in some cases, it can be up to a year and a half. And we, at Lenovo, are absorbing innovations all the time, sometimes developing systems for our customers that incorporate technology which doesn’t exist yet. That’s how leading supercomputing is in IT. It’s a continuous challenge, but at the same time it’s extremely interesting.

Plus, it allows Lenovo to develop very close working relationships with close partners like Intel, who deliver some of the components we use in our HPC solutions. And that’s a huge help because we can make sure we optimally use the foundational technology that they provide, and integrate it into the systems that we’re delivering into the market.

For example, Lenovo was the first to market products with warm-water cooling technology, which makes the HPC environment much more energy-efficient. Part of the package can be capabilities like ‘energy aware scheduling’, through which we can dynamically tweak processor and memory performance to exactly match the task at hand. So if need be, processor performance and frequency can be decreased or put into turbo mode to get the optimal results on both computational and energy consumption level.

Becoming number one

Lenovo will also be holding a couple of talks at ISC 2016. These will focus on the role of HPC within the entire Lenovo datacentre strategy. Our mission is to become the most trusted datacentre partner and, in order to do that, we need to thoroughly explain what our capabilities are and what our strategy is. Everything we do is focused on improving customer experience, and we aim to demonstrate why we’re pursuing HPC very aggressively from both a technological and commercial perspective.

HPC has so many applications that are often not thought of – from weather and climate predictions and research, to doing the engineering calculations needed to build oil rigs, airplanes and automobiles. At ISC-HPC, we’ll present the many benefits that Lenovo can offer to customers and partners, and we’ll share the innovations and capabilities that can help their businesses innovate.

ISC-HPC takes place over 19–23 June in Frankfurt, Germany.

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