Saturday, August 16, 2008

HPC is dead, long live HPC!

With the advent of web scale computing, genetics, and data mining for business intelligence the need for computer performance is growing exponentially. In a previous post, The Achilles' Heel of SaaS we identified that the processor vendors have been ruefully underdelivering performance so everybody has been forced to build clusters of cooperating servers to support the compute requirements of today's information processing. So now everybody is an HPC consumer.

If you look at the fortunes of pure HPC providers like Silicon Graphics and Cray it is obvious that corporate America has not been motivated by HPC vendor's marketing messages entailing the goodness of HPC for American's competitiveness. The only outfit that seems to keep these companies afloat is the NSA. This is a trend that has been documented for many years now at the Council on Competitiveness.

A quick Google trends query shows that just when everybody is becoming an HPC consumer, the term is slowly loosing its luster in favor of more business friendly terms like Cloud Computing and SaaS. SaaS in particular will force the provider to leverage HPC technologies such as clusters and distributed computing.

You can keep track of these terms here.

The data also shows that HPC interest and innovation has shifted away from the US to Europe and the far east. Organizations like India's Tata are building and operating world-class HPC installations. Even Sweden is on the top 5 list. It makes a lot of sense for Russia, China, and India to jump on this: they have very little inertia and they understand that moving up into the value chain is the next step of their evolution to play in the global economy.

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