Supercomputing Grows in the Cloud

In a flagging economy, companies are slowly turning to on-demand services to get high-performance compute cycles without having to pay for high-end hardware.

An economy that continues to stagnate could prove a boon to an increasing number of providers of on-demand supercomputing capacity.

The market for such services has so far grown slowly, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Inc. "But a weak, rocky economy makes on-demand services a lot more affordable than purchasing and maintaining a dedicated supercomputing cluster," he added.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., said on-demand supercomputer services can prove particularly useful to smaller businesses that need powerful processing but can't afford to buy high-performance computing systems.

More than 25 such businesses nationwide have directly participated in the Ohio Supercomputer Center's (OSC) Blue Collar Computing initiative, which sells supercomputing services to companies that have never used such high-end hardware. More than 250 additional companies have also used the services by accessing them through OSC partners, like the Edison Welding Institute (EWI), said Ashok Krishnamurthy, interim co-director of the Columbus, Ohio-based center.

EWI, a nonprofit industry organization, offers members access to E-Weld Predictor, a Web portal that lets users access the OSC's 1,650-node IBM supercomputer cluster, dubbed "Glenn," for tasks like simulating complex welds, Krishnamurthy said. "This simulates a whole bunch of prototypes, [cutting] the time it takes to create a welding process from six months to two weeks," he said. Typical workstations couldn't handle all of the calculations that are involved in such processes, he added.

The OSC supercomputer runs AMD Opteron multicore processors and IBM cell processors; it has a peak performance of more than 75 TFLOPS, according to OSC.

Woodward Governor Co., a maker of jet engine parts, signed a contract with a consulting firm this spring to gain access to supercomputers housed at IBM's Computing on Demand facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The contract follows Woodward's yearlong participation in a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that was designed to show how small manufacturers can use high-performance computing technology to significantly speed industrial design and modeling projects.

During the pilot project, which was overseen by the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute, Woodward used cloud-based supercomputing cycles to run complex software that quickly created and evaluated designs that could be incorporated into the production cycle without delay. The company estimated that the speedier process could lead to a savings of about $500,000 annually.

In addition to IBM, other companies that offer on-demand supercomputing include Silicon Graphics International Corp., which in February launched a service called Cyclone. And Hewlett-Packard Co. , Intel Corp. , Yahoo Inc. and others are in the process of testing a new public cloud dubbed Open Cirrus .

Weiss is a freelance reporter. Contact him at toddrweiss@gmail.com .

This version of this article was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an earlier version that first appeared on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mainframes and supercomputers in Computerworld's Mainframes and Supercomputers Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags hardwareMainframes and SupercomputersPund-IThardware systemsinternetcloud computing

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Todd R. Weiss

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?