Saturday, September 15, 2012

High Performance Computing

Computers have undergone major advancements in the recent years. The processing speed and computing capacity of the computers have increased tremendously. The technology is moving towards developing supercomputers that can execute at the highest operational speed know to us. High Performance Computing (HPC) refers to the development of such supercomputers that are capable of running advanced applications efficiently in a short span of time. It primarily makes use of parallel processing technique where a complex program is divided into smaller units which are executed by multiple processors. 

A computer capable of high performance computing usually consists of numerous processors to increase the computing speed. The processors in supercomputers have two different paths. 

·    The computers will be distributed in various administrative domains and their processing power is utilized based on a computer’s availability. This approach is usually followed in grid computing.

·     Many computers are connected to one another and they work as a single system. They work like a computer cluster.

The history of HPC systems dates back many years ago, when the first supercomputer was released in 1960. The first super computer was designed by Seymour Cray at Control Data Corporation. He developed a simple innovative design based on parallelism to reach high operating speed. But, the coming years saw the rise of huge and complex parallel computers comprising thousands of microprocessors to deliver great computing speeds.

The main drawback of a HPC system is that it consumers huge amount of electricity. The energy consumed is turned into heat and you have to invest on cooling the system. So the main challenge is in developing a typical supercomputer that is energy efficient. The companies producing supercomputers are trying different tactics to overcome this hurdle.

The supercomputers are generally used for solving complex calculations like forecasting weather, research on nuclear energy and climate, analyzing the basic properties of chemical and biological compounds, fuel exploration, etc. These HPC computers will cost much if you want a powerful one. But nowadays, you get it on cloud computing services so that you can test its efficiency before making a huge investment on it. 

The HPC systems are beneficial to businesses and society as a whole. It can contribute to the development of other powerful systems and new technologies. You can calculate at great speeds using a HPC system when compared to a normal computer. The program is executed quickly and you get the results in no time.

The HPC systems are designed with the aim of achieving the maximum capability in computing. They do not measure efficiency based on capacity to computer. There is a major difference between capability and capacity computing. In capability computing, the aim is to compute a single complex program at the fastest possible speed. That is, the time taken for execution is what measured to calculate efficiency. Capacity computing on the contrary refers to a system’s ability to execute as many programs as possible.

 HPC is used in various contexts:
·         HPC is used to develop the external design of cars based on aerodynamic simulations.
·         It helps in finding the right configuration for nuclear refueling.
·         It is used to explore the availability of petroleum and oil.
·         It is used to study various physical simulations
The applications of HTC systems are increasing and it is expected that their operating speeds will increase manifold times in the coming years.

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Jena Branch of Buycox.com, a site that offers savings and current information on cox tv

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