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Traditional HPC and Edge HPC

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D.
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
May 21, 2008

as published in HPCWire

Traditional HPC and Edge HPC -- The Same Only Different

Tabor Research is in the midst of conducting in-depth end-user interviews with organizations running or considering Edge HPC applications (see http://www.taborresearch.com/edgemarket.html for Edge HPC definition). As we have completed the initial interviews several similarities and difference between the two branches of high productivity computing have become apparent.

Similarities include:

  • Bleeding edge computing -- Interviewees often sounded like old time supercomputer users, noting that standard solutions for their problems were not available, and that they had to be developed in-house. Also that their organizations were constantly refreshing technology, and were among the first to adopt new product features.
  • Latency is everything -- One of the biggest issues is interconnect and network performance, particularly communications latency. This is one of the oldest and most persistent issues in HPC, as each improvement in component performance places new pressures on interconnects and networks to keep systems in balance. "You can buy bandwidth, but you can't bribe God for latency." - Ancient Cybernetic Proverb
  • Pain of parallelism -- It is difficult to find programmers who can write "decent multithreaded code."
  • Environmental issues -- Space, power, and cooling are major concerns. No real surprise here, however some interesting measures: throughput per KW, and performance per a "U". Once again the shade of green in computing is the same as on a dollar bill.

 

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