HPC: all about High Performance Computing and supercomputers

HPC or High Performance Computing, also called high performance computing in French, consists of combining the power of several thousand processors to perform complex calculations and massive data processing in real time. Find out everything you need to know about it.

With data, scientists are able to make groundbreaking discoveries, companies are able to innovate, and the quality of life of billions of people on Earth can be improved.

With the rise of technologies such as the Internet of Things or artificial intelligence, the vhe amount of data available to companies has literally exploded. over the last few years. In fact, there are more opportunities than ever before. However, the computing power required to process this data has also increased.

For example, it is need to be able to process data in real time for live streaming of a sporting event, monitoring a developing storm, testing new products or analysing financial market trends. This is why more and more companies are turning to HPC.

What is HPC and supercomputers?

High-performance computing or HPC, also called high-performance computing in French, makes it possible to process data and perform complex calculations at high speed.

To put it simply, let’s compare an HPC solution with a simple PC with a 3 GHz processor. Such a machine will be able to perform about 3 billion calculations per second. The HPC solution, on the other hand, can perform several quadrillion calculations per second. Generally speaking, a system is considered HPC when it is capable of performing more than 1012 floating point operations per second.

There are different HPC solutions, but the most well known is of course the supercomputer. While a conventional PC is usually equipped with a single CPU, a supercomputer has an embedded several thousand compute nodes each containing one or more computing chips and its own memory. These nodes can be combined to complete one or more tasks.

It’s what’s called “parallel computing”… . For example, using a supercomputer is like using several thousand PCs simultaneously to combine their computing power and perform tasks that are too complex or time-consuming for a single machine.

How does HPC work?

HPC solutions are based on three main components: computing, networking, and storage. In order to form a high-performance computing architecture, the computing servers are networked in the form of a cluster. Each server represents a node of the cluster.

The software and algorithms are launched simultaneously on the servers of the same cluster that operate in parallel. The cluster is networked with the data storage to capture the results. Thus, these different components allow different tasks to be performed smoothly and efficiently.

Of course, to maximize performance, each component must be in rhythm with the others. For example, the storage component must be able to transfer data to the calculation servers and retrieve it as soon as it is processed. Similarly, the network component must be able to support the rapid transfer of data between servers and storage. Otherwise, the performance of the HPC infrastructure will be impaired.

What are the different cases of use?

HPC solutions can be used for a multitude of use cases within different industries. For example, in research laboratoriesThis technology allows scientists to find renewable energy sources, understand the evolution of the universe, predict and track storms, and create new materials.

In the field of media and entertainmentHPC can be used for rendering special effects or streaming live events. In the oil and gas industryThe goal is to more accurately identify where to dig for new wells and increase production from existing wells.

HPC is also used in conjunction with the Machine Learning and artificial intelligence to develop autonomous vehicles or improve cancer detection techniques.

And these are just a few examples of use cases. As you can see, High Performance Computing is a technology of the future that will become increasingly important as the volume of data to be processed in real time increases. Indeed, HPC is closely related to Big Data.

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