Choosing the technology that has evolved most over the past two decades would be a daunting task, but it is likely that high performance computing (HPC) would be among the top contenders.
In the early 2000s, HPC installations and performance were largely dominated by systems leveraging proprietary technologies, such as processors and interconnects. But by 2008, eight of the top ten supercomputers ranked by Top500.org (including the top three) were based on x86 silicon from Intel and AMD.
These developments sparked a commercial renaissance for HPC. However, while considerably less expensive than it once was, HPC still requires significant upfront investments, and tends to become redundant more quickly than other commercial systems. Is there any way that HPC vendors can help customers enjoy greater flexibility and achieve a better return on their investments?
Lenovo’s recent addition of a new HPC-as-a-Service (HPCaaS) to its TruScale everything-as-a service portfolio offers an intriguing approach.
Commercial HPC Challenges
Why has effective HPC remained out of reach for many organizations? After all, since x86 CPUs and other industry standard components were cheaper and easier to obtain than proprietary tech, powerful HPC solutions became increasingly affordable. That trend accelerated as GPUs and other industry standard components came to play key roles in HPC.
However, by definition and design, HPC delivers optimum value through optimal functionality. Meaning that businesses hoping to achieve market differentiation or success with HPC need to continually look to and push the edge of system performance. Companies that can afford and acquire the newest, fastest, most powerful solutions can automatically put competitors at a disadvantage.
As a result, “keeping up with the neighbors” in HPC can be painfully expensive, with many businesses purchasing new and larger systems than they might need to address uncertain compute requirements or market shifts. Add in the remarkable events of the past two years, as the Covid pandemic has shaken global businesses and supply chains, and it should come as no surprise that organizations are reining-in capital investments wherever possible, including those that could benefit from leading-edge HPC solutions.
Lenovo’s New HPCaaS
What is Lenovo’s new TruScale HPCaaS and how might it address these issues? To the first point, the company has designed its TruScale offerings so that customers can acquire, use and pay for services as easily as they would through public cloud platforms.
Like other TruScale offerings, the new HPCaaS solution allows Lenovo customers to acquire on-premises systems (in this case, HPC clusters) with no up-front investment and then pay for the compute, storage and other resources they consume with transparent and predictable payment options.
They can also effectively manage their budgets and visualize consumption and payment requirements through Lenovo’s TruScale Portal. In other words, Lenovo TruScale HPCaaS enables businesses to turn traditionally substantial capital-intensive investments into more manageable and affordable operational expenditures.
Just as importantly for HPC-focused groups and divisions, TruScale HPCaaS allows additional compute, storage and acceleration resources to be provisioned via what Lenovo calls “push button” access, and are turned-off after requirements are met. That enables customers to flexibly access and use whatever resources they need or can afford. In other words, Lenovo’s TurScale HPCaaS helps ensure that the days of organizations having too few or buying too many HPC resources are fading fast.
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Overall, Lenovo’s TruScale HPCaaS is intriguing both commercially and strategically. As noted above, the new solution offers the company’s customers options for acquiring, using and paying for HPC that are simpler and more transparent and affordable than traditional solutions.
That should interest organizations in HPC-intensive sectors, like academia, healthcare, manufacturing and pharmaceutical research. At the same time, the flexibility of Lenovo’s offerings could also help expand and accelerate the use of commercial HPC applications in other sectors and businesses.
Finally, it is worth noting that developing and delivering TruScale HPCaaS is clearly within Lenovo’s wheelhouse. The company has long been a force in both high end supercomputing (it has been the leading vendor in Top500.org since June 2018) and commercial HPC. Overall, Lenovo has the assets, knowledge and expertise to make TruScale HPCaaS work for itself and its customers.