High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of parallel processing for running advanced application programs efficiently, reliably and quickly. While this term refers in general to the computing power required to perform high data computation, you can occasionally use it as a synonym for supercomputing.
In the cloud environment, High-performance cloud computing (HPC2) is a type of Cloud Computing solution that incorporates standards, procedures and elements from cloud computing. HPC2 defines the techniques for achieving computing operations that match the speed of supercomputing from a cloud computing architecture.
HPC2 computing will provide analysts and scientist with access to a massive pool of highly reliable, available and scalable computing infrastructure, that can be provisioned on request and released when not required. The complete solution may include storage, hardware and application software, all of which will be delivered through cloud as an on demand basis.
The typical end users of the HPCC power are scientists, analysts, engineers and educational institutions. As demand for processing power and speed grows, HPC will likely interest businesses of all sizes, particularly for transaction processing and data warehouses.
Benefits of High Performance Cloud Computing
High performance cloud computing power is usually required for performing computing with high data, usually seen in the insurance, medical and financial institutions.
- On-demand, fast and inexpensive – The more power that you use to solve a problem, the better and faster is the result. This actually works out for the businesses who earlier used to take days or months to get the final results.
- Optimize time and cost with Spot Instances which is available in the AWS. Spot Instances is a pricing model that enables you to bid on unused Amazon EC2 capacity at whatever price you choose. When your bid exceeds the Spot price, you gain access to the available Spot Instances and run as long as the bid exceeds the Spot Price. It is about 50% to 93% lower than the on-demand price.
- Return of Investment is more for the company. It is dependent on how quickly they can enter and exit the cloud with the results. And also on how your application scales.
- Scalable, Flexible and dependable – Faster procurement and provisioning of the computing resources.
- Large data sets which grow exponentially can be stored in the cloud. It is easier to compute closer to the data, to reduce latency and increase throughput.
Challenges faced by the HPCC
Broader use of HPC in the cloud also presents some key challenges. Primary among them is the lack of high-speed interconnects and noise-free operating systems to enable tightly coupled HPC applications to scale. New optimized virtualization models (thin VMs, containers, and so on) are also reducing virtualization costs. Moving towards the HPC2 presents other challenges:
- The costing/pricing model, which earlier operated from the traditional supercomputing approach of grants and quotas toward the pay-as-you-go model typical of cloud-based services.
- The job submission model, which is evolving from job queuing and reservations toward VM deployment.
- The cost involved in bringing data in and out of the cloud
- SLA’s, security, performance, regulatory compliance, availability, business continuity, and so on.
- Not all applications are suited for high power cloud computing. They may be tied down hardware architectures or use cluster technologies that require their own hardware or fixed configurations. Others are very sensitive to latency or cannot scale out because of architectural design.
- Applications that require h/w dependencies and hardwired configuration settings may require capital investments.
At the end of the day, you can have applications use the high performance cloud computing power when their architectures are elastic. It is sensible to have a pay-as-you-go payment option for applications which uses the VM environment or can be deployed over a middleware platform.
The dynamic scalability and loose coupling between compute nodes and storage (nodes act independently or are tolerant of high network latencies) is also contributing to the growing popularity of HPC2.
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