HPC Networking: The Foundation for Networked Supercomputers

Traditionally, parallel applications have run on monolithic supercomputers that have been prohibitively expensive for many companies to acquire and operate. A recent development that uses much the same principles as traditional supercomputers are HPC clusters. HPC clusters are made up of multiple, sometimes many thousands, of industry standard computers that use cluster software and high-performance network interconnects to run parallel applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional supercomputers.

Many enterprises now use high performance compute (HPC) clusters to run commercial HPC applications to provide faster “time to enlightenment” that can affect an enterprise’s profitability and competitiveness. These applications offer significant advantages, especially when the amount of time saved to generate a result is considered, as this may reduce the risk of development, or enable investments to be better aligned and spent, or bring products to market faster.

Traditionally, parallel applications have run on monolithic supercomputers that have been prohibitively expensive for many companies to acquire and operate. A recent development that uses much the same principles as traditional supercomputers are HPC clusters. HPC clusters are made up of multiple, sometimes many thousands, of industry standard computers that use cluster software and high-performance network interconnects to run parallel applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional supercomputers.

A key element of HPC clusters is the network. At the heart of parallel computing is the ability to exchange messages with other nodes within the cluster, referred to as interprocess communications (IPC) that requires a high-performance network to facilitate these exchanges. However, other communications are required within the HPC cluster, such as how files are accessed and managed, that are often overlooked. Additionally, HPC applications have differing requirements such as how frequently and how much data is exchanged during execution of the application and understanding these requirements is critical when choosing a particular HPC solution.

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