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Alex Barrett of TechTarget states that “In recent years, the worldwide HPC (high performance computing) sector has been one of the lone bright spots in IT spending, estimated at $20.3 billion in 2011, and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%, according to IDC.”
The largest driver of this growth is the need for complex and compute-intensive data analysis and simulation jobs that require these types of specialized platforms. While the cost is typically high for traditional HPC approaches, many businesses are seeking and finding cloud alternatives.
Cloud providers have responded through new compute resource types that may be a better fit for HPC jobs. For instance, Amazon offers Cluster Compute, comprised of eight instances running on memory-rich Intel Sandy Bridge nodes. These leverage Cluster Compute instances that can be located in Placement Groups that guarantee low latency. There are 10 Gbps bandwidth between instances.
Microsoft has responded with “Big Compute” nodes on its Azure public cloud. These come with eight instances and 60 GB of RAM, or 16 instances with 120 GB. These run on Intel Sandy Bridge nodes as well with “DDR memory, five 1 TB disks, 10 GbE for network and storage communication, and 40Gb InfiniBand for internode communication.”
The use of cloud-based platforms for HPC is an exciting trend. It puts high-end computing resources in the hands of enterprises that typically can’t afford traditional hardware and software approaches.