The field of high performance computing is undergoing major changes. Obviously, as the technology evolves, the potential applications and capabilities inherent to HPC expand. More significant, though, is the growing availability of those solutions. Whereas in the past only the largest enterprises could afford HPC systems, now these assets are within reach for a wide range of organizations. Consequently, countless firms can now, for the first time, experience major benefits by embracing HPC tools. However, in order to fully leverage these solutions, companies need to approach the technology carefully and apply best practices.
A growing market
The increasing availability and accessibility of HPC technology can best be seen in the market's fairly rapid growth. Recently, TechNavio released its latest global HPC market forecast, projecting a compound annual growth rate of 8.8 percent for the period of 2013 to 2018. This figure reinforces earlier, similar predictions from a number of research firms.
The report noted that one of the most significant factors driving HPC market growth is the rising demand for data analytics, storage and related solutions. The exponentially increasing amount of information available to companies, and the need to leverage these resources to remain competitive in various sectors, is encouraging many firms to embrace HPC tools for the first time. Additionally, this trend and the increasing popularity of cloud-based solutions has led to a significant market for High Performance Computing-as-a-Service.
While the report acknowledged that implementing HPC resources still requires a sizable upfront investment, which prevents a number of smaller firms from embracing these solutions, there is no doubt that this barrier to entry will continue to recede over time as the technology becomes more affordable.
HPC best practices
As more companies begin to explore HPC possibilities, the importance of best practices increases significantly. Only by approaching these solutions strategically and cautiously can firms hope to enjoy the full benefits of the technology.
Writing for TechTarget, Paul Korzeniowski recently highlighted several of the most important best practices when it comes to HPC. For example, he emphasized the need for the right memory configuration. The writer noted that HPC success depends heavily on parallel processing, which means that information must have the ability to travel in and out of the company's memory systems quickly. This means that not only the sheer amount of memory, but also the type of memory utilized is important. Korzeniowski noted that there are three basic types of dual in-line memory modules, and that each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Implementing the right one will have a major, positive impact on HPC efforts.
Another key best practice, according to Korzeniowski, is regularly upgrading the solutions in place.
"High-performance computing applications are growing rapidly, so future expansion of the system is of paramount concern," he asserted.
Organizations specifically interested in maximizing expansion capabilities should look to custom-designed HPC options, Korzeniowski explained. While more expensive, these offerings have much greater functionality and design potential. An off-the-shelf solution will be more affordable but provides fewer opportunities for future growth.
One last best practice, Korzeniowski claimed, is keeping HPC systems in sync. He noted that over time, even a perfectly aligned system will become out of sync. IT teams must develop policies that specifically address this quickly.
In all of these ways and more, HPC tools can and should play a key role toward achieving best practices. Specifically, companies using these practices need to invest in HPC-specific debuggers that can quickly and effectively identify potential memory, upgrade, and synchronization issues. This allows enterprises to reduce testing costs, as well as time to market. Considering the complexity of HPC technology, these can add up to a significant advantage.