Cluster Computing News
Cluster Computing Resources
November 1, 2014
As HPC cluster technology becomes more accessible, companies of all sizes have the potential to tap unlimited horsepower to create new simulation-driven engineering workflows. But before diving headfirst into what’s likely uncharted territory, there are a number of considerations small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to hammer out to ensure they make full use of this key technology.
By some industry accounts, SMEs are in the driver’s seat for about 80% of product design in their role as suppliers and design partners to larger corporations. Yet this group faces challenges to scaling its existing workstation infrastructure with HPC resources to accommodate simulation-driven design workflows.
Simulation specialists aren’t necessarily HPC experts, and smaller shops may lack the expertise and IT resources to effectively deploy, configure, and operate HPC clusters without a lot of handholding. HPC clusters, while far more affordable than traditional big-iron HPC systems, are still a significant investment, especially for smaller shops.
Consider Existing and Future Workloads
HPC clusters offer a great deal of choice with regard to processors, memory configurations, high speed networks, and cluster software. You don’t want to risk under powering the new environment or conversely, over paying for expensive HPC compute power that is left to sit idle. Applications and user experience should drive cluster specifications.
The HP-Intel Innovation Initiative sponsors a number of programs to simplify the configuration and deployment of HPC clusters and to steer companies to the optimal HPC environment.
The program supports development of application-specific Solution Reference Architectures (SRAs). The SRAs provide advice on optimal cluster designs, based on performance testing at HP’s in-house Benchmark Centers and inputs from software developers. These SRAs are available for leading CAE applications from vendors such as ANSYS® and Dassault Systemes SIMULIA®. (See solutions at www.hp.com/go/hpc.)
HP Cluster Platforms are flexible, factory integrated solutions available from HP and its resellers. These clusters can be built to support the SRA recommendations, and can be expanded easily over time to support changing workloads.
Minimize Cost and Maximize ROI
HPC clusters are core capabilities for manufacturers, delivering ROI with benefits such as lower time to market, and allowing deeper insights into R&D problems. HPC clusters are not an insignificant investment, but today’s technology is providing unprecedented performance for entry HPC clusters.
Turnkey entry clusters provide an affordable path to HPC and are available with efficient, compact designs and on-site support for easy integration into the SME’s infrastructure. For example, ANSYS-specific HPC Starter kits are available from HP reseller, Dasher Technologies. They feature a turnkey, optimized hardware/software platform, pre-configured with ANSYS CAE software, delivered and installed on site, with remote management and support (www.dasher.com/solutions/ANSYS). Monthly leasing can minimize budget impacts.
Another option is HP Helion (hp.com/helion/hpc), a self-service HPC solution that provides a portal to a private cloud. For enterprises considering deploying a private cloud, HP Helion enables inclusion of an HPC service into that private cloud.
Manageability and Simplicity
HPC clusters use management tools that may be unfamiliar to IT administrators. Consulting engagements and managed services can help fill the gap, but it’s key to have robust cluster management and workload scheduler capabilities via an intuitive user portal, so non-HPC experts can self-service common tasks.
HP® and Intel® have also teamed up with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) and prominent universities like George Mason to create HPC Innovation Hubs, which provide on-demand access to HPC resources to SMEs that aren’t in a position to buy and operate their own HPC clusters.
With so many affordable and accessible resources to choose from, SMEs no longer have to hold back from making HPC clusters a key part of their simulation design efforts. To find out more about the HP-Intel HPC Innovation Initiative, go to www.hp.com/go/compete.
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