How Cloud Computing Has Forever Changed HPC

Supercomputing 2018 provided clear demonstrations that cloud-based High Performance Computing (HPC) has forever changed HPC and is having profound societal impacts in the medical community as well as on HPC supercomputer centers themselves. One example is Frontera, the latest National Science Foundation-funded system at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). TACC’s Frontera, which will be the fastest supercomputer at any U.S. university and among the most powerful in the world, has a cloud component1.  Another example is UberCloud, who received three prestigious HPC community awards at SC18.

UberCloud, in particular, demonstrated that cloud-based HPC is a platform that now has a significant societal impact. In recognition of that, a community award was given for an effort in partnership with India’s National Institute of Health that replaced a highly risky brain-invasive procedure for schizophrenia – and potentially Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other brain disorders – with a non-invasive low-risk, low-cost treatment. Wolfgang Gentzsch (President and Co-Founder), UberCloud observes, “The use of cloud-based HPC in personalized medicine demonstrates the adoption and acceptance of HPC throughout all aspects of our global society”.

Cloud as a component of modern HPC centers

Meanwhile, Dan Stanzione (Executive Director of the TACC) discussed how cloud-based computing has been incorporated into the Frontera petascale computing system during a pre-release meeting. Stanzione noted that “Giving users access to the cloud means they can experiment with the latest architectures as cloud providers are deploying those all the time.” Feedback from running in the cloud gives TACC valuable information on what they need to consider for future deployments. Frontera will be based on the latest Intel Xeon Scalable Cascade Lake processors to chew through a diverse array of scientific workloads.

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