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September 24, 2015

Hitting the limits of cloud will open the way for HPC

Analysis: Experts warn that booming cloud services require HPC stacked data centres.

By Joao Lima

As cloud usage is on the rise, service limitations could mean this technology will soon fall short and be overtaken by high performance computing (HPC), which has the capability to keep up with demand .

This is the prediction of experts from Infinity, Mellanox, the University of Leeds and ANVIL Industries who gathered at the Infinity and CBRE’s HPC conference today in London.

Dr Jon Summers, senior lecturer at the University of Leeds, said: "In the future, we will not be able to see the difference between HPC and the cloud.

"We are moving from the knowledge age to the intelligent age."

Backing Summers, Russ Taylor, innovation director at ANVIL Industries, said cloud will disappear completely.

"Cloud is all going to run on HPC. It will disappear and become HPC."

UK needs ‘HPC on demand’

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While cloud could in the future become a legacy solution, the UK is needing to rethink its take on the technology evolution as a whole.

Regarded as a frontrunner in the tech spectrum, the UK is at risk of missing out in the future if it does not change strategy, according to Jonathan Humphries, technical sales director at Infinity.

He said: "We are trying to bring HPC to the masses, giving people the ability in small organisations to have these assets available to grow.

"We need to look at this as a type of hub for UK companies to scale. We cannot always focus on the impact of moving services to the cloud; we have to move it to the cloud.

"If we do not do it, we will see the data centre market in the UK change and we will miss out as a nation. We need to understand what we are building from day one."

Humphries continued to say that "HPC is ever-changing" and that adapting all the solutions available for HPC currently available in the market is quite difficult.

He reinforced the idea that the industry must take on these technologies to make a difference to society.

Industry has grown up

Building on from the debate on the future of HPC, the panel focused on today’s challenges in this space.

Colin Bridger, senior director interconnect EMEA at Mellanox, said that people recognise security as an issue, which means the industry is "a bit more grown up about that today".

He also highlighted that "one of the challenges definitely is skilled based" and that virtualisation needs to be polished to deliver its true power.

"[We need to start] Using what we have in a better way. We see data centre technologies that can be used in HPC and vice versa. From a power point of view, we are trying to make virtualisation more efficient."

Adding to this, Humphries said that another obstacle for mass adoption of HPC is the cost of the technology.

He said: "The cost of HPC has been an extortion. It is all about a shared experience and that will bring costs down."

If organisations, universities and people share their HPC expertise this would bring the technology price down to affordable levels.

"What we need to think about is that not everyone has the money [to afford HPC]."

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