Intel® Cluster Ready Partner Newsletter Q1 2012 - Feature Stories

HPC Everywhere!

HPC_E5-2600.pngTapping into Vast New Markets with Standards-Based Clusters
Every so often technology passes a tipping point that profoundly changes how we survive and thrive on this planet. At this particular moment in history, the pieces are falling into place for another major step forward-the ubiquitous use of high-performance computing (HPC).

Large research labs and corporate R&D organizations already understand the transformative value of modeling and simulation using HPC clusters. Alcoa, for example, used it to reduce product testing by 98%.1 Imagine the cost, productivity, and time-to-market benefits represented by a 98% improvement. Now multiply those gains by the millions of small businesses around the world who don’t yet have access to HPC resources-a market segment known as the “missing middle.”

This is a true game-changer. 

We’re looking at increases in innovation and productivity not seen since the industrial revolution. At a time when business and governments are struggling throughout the world, this technology has the potential not only to lift struggling companies, but to jumpstart entire economies. Ultimately, it will transform virtually every industry- financial services, health care, drug development, climatology, energy development, food production. The list goes on and we’ll talk about key areas in future newsletters.

For now, let’s focus on manufacturing. Today’s modeling and simulation applications accelerate the entire product lifecycle, from design and optimization to testing and manufacturing. Costly and time-consuming physical prototypes all but disappear. Designers and engineers have everything they need at their fingertips and can run through design iterations at unprecedented speeds. Cost, risk, and time-to-market are dramatically reduced, and fast, data-driven innovation becomes a practical reality.

Some small companies have already adopted digital manufacturing. PING Golf cut its design cycle time by 68%,2 a significant competitive advantage in any market. But companies such as PING represent a small nucleus of innovators. Despite the clear benefits, only 4% of small-to-midsize manufacturers are using HPC technologies today.3 The remaining 96% represent an enormous market opportunity.

Why are so few businesses using digital modeling and simulation today?
Money can no longer be considered a significant roadblock. A powerful cluster based on Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers is within easy reach for most small to mid-size businesses, offering value well beyond the relatively modest cost.

Complexity is more of a challenge for the missing middle, but Intel® Cluster Ready and the member ecosystem are answering that challenge today. Standards-based clusters built on a common architecture reduce complexity and risk for customers. An Intel Cluster Ready certified cluster can typically be purchased and deployed in days, rather than weeks or months. Customers no longer have to be experts in Linux administration or cluster computing. Systems are typically ready for use immediately upon installation, and will run many of today’s most popular design, simulation, and modeling applications right out of the box.

So why aren’t we seeing massive adoption of digital manufacturing? The reason is primarily cultural. Most small to mid-sized businesses use computer aided design (CAD), but have no experience or familiarity with simulation and modeling applications. They don’t know how to use the tools and they have no clear understanding of how digital techniques would accelerate their product development efforts and transform their workflows. What these potential customers need is a simple, low-cost, low-risk way to experience for themselves the power of digital design and manufacturing. 

The time to begin engaging with this massive new market is now. 

The technological pieces are in place and the value proposition is compelling. New clusters based on the upcoming Intel Xeon processor E5 product family (codenamed Sandy Bridge) are poised to deliver another major boost in performance and value to fuel higher adoption rates. In addition to the usual generational performance gains, these processors provide Intel AVX, which greatly accelerates large-number floating-point computations (256-bit calculations can now be accommodated in a single operation). Customers can run more complex models, get results faster, and run more simulations in a given time frame to further increase productivity. Intel has been working closely with the Intel Cluster Ready ecosystem, so a wide range of compatible clusters and applications will be available at launch. 

How can HPC vendors engage with the missing middle? 

Intel Cluster Ready helps vendors engage successfully with the missing middle by simplifying the design and delivery of turnkey solutions that can run a wide range of commercial applications right out of the box. Customers with limited in-house expertise can select, use and manage an Intel Cluster Ready cluster and be confident it will work as expected. This assurance provides vendors with a low-touch pathway for expanding into this critical new market segment-a segment that can be expected, in time, to account for the majority of HPC sales.

1 Source: Alliance for High Performance Digital Manufacturing (AHPDM) website, January 16, 2012.
2 Top500 List - November 2011 (1-100). Top500® Computer Sites. November 2011. February 27, 2012.
3 Source: Jon Riley, executive director, Design & Engineering Programs, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS). As referenced in “Bringing Big Tools to the Little Guys,”by John Kirkley, Digital Manufacturing Report, November 15, 2011.

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