The Journey to the Cloud Begins with HPC

Michael Vizard

When it comes to the future of enterprise computing, it's always instructive to look to see what is being developed in the realm of high-performance computing (HPC).

As cloud computing in the enterprise evolves, many of the private cloud computing platforms of tomorrow are going to look a lot like the HPC environments of today.

With that in mind, it's worth taking note of what SGI is up to in terms of building systems using Intel's new Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture. According to Bill Mannel, SGI vice president of product marketing at SGI, SGI will be able to create systems using Intel's MIC architecture that will be able to deliver an exaflop (1,000 petaflops) of performance by 2018.

MIC leverages Intel Xeon processors in a multicore architecture that makes extensive use of co-processors, which Intel hopes developers will use to generate a new generation of applications that will leverage parallel processing. As that paradigm evolves, the way applications are built and then deployed in either an HPC or cloud computing environment will dramatically change.

In the meantime, SGI is pushing the performance envelope with new offerings such as the latest version of the Altix ICE, an Intel Xeon blade server that can house 36 compute nodes per server to make up to 2,304 cores available. In addition, the company rolled out a new high-end SGI InfiniteStorage 5500 storage system.

In terms of raw compute power, major leaps forward should allow IT organizations to not only run existing applications faster, but also start thinking more about creating applications that were previously thought to be impossible.

In the meantime, don't be too surprised to visit a cloud computing environment one day soon that is virtually indistinguishable from a traditional HPC data center.

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Jun 30, 2011 2:06 PM Alessandro Alessandro  says:
Hi Mike! First of all I would like to agree with your view on the future development of HPC. I think there is no way around the fact that the Cloud is the emerging environment for HPC. The recently published report by research analysts Gartner supports this development: it states that spendings in cloud services grow at a three times higher rate than average IT global market growth (7%). With regard to your finishing statement, I think you would be interested in - it corresponds 100% to your prediction. offers a HPC solution for complex calculations in the Cloud via an intuitive platform: statistic open-source applications such as R can be accessed via a virtualized dektop. In this way, running R in the Cloud becomes "virtually indistinguishable" from normal desktop R application, to put it into your words. We welcome you to for further information. Maybe, you can also verify your own forecast! Best regards, Alessandro Reply

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