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Is 'Partitioned HPC' an Oxymoron?

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D.
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
Jul 25, 2008

as published in HPCWire

Server partitioning – one of the many implementations of IT virtualization – has for the last half decade seen strong interest within commercial computing environments. This interest has been driven in large part in response to the population explosion of small servers that occurred in the first part of the decade. Confronted with the availability of inexpensive powerful PC-based servers, many users adopted the strategy of "a server for every application, and an application for every server."

This approach worked well until those pesky little boxes began to form herds, with each member requiring "care and feeding," which added up to some major system management expenses. To make matters worse, these herds of servers were generally underutilized (what does a print server do when no one is printing, other than generate heat?). Thus, users looked to virtualization and partitioning as a way to keep the herd of killer micros under control. By dividing an underutilized server into multiple logical partitions each configured to meet the requirements of a specific set of applications, users began to consolidate their servers (i.e., cull the herd). They have never looked back.

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