Scale-out architecture is the future for HPC

Nijmegen, November 24 2015 – The clear trend in High Performance Computing is to scale out rather than to scale up. The IT service provider and HPC specialist transtec has responded with different variables such as CPU, network or storage.

To scale horizontally (or scale out) is a key trend in the HPC environment as it accelerates parallel processing. This not only applies to processor and network technology but also storage with the deployment of parallel file systems.

In terms of the CPU, this scale-out trend is seen in the deployment of ever more cores per CPU while the clock rate has pretty much stayed the same. In other words, to accelerate performance, the focus is on multi-core processor technology rather than the techni-cally complex task of increasing the clock rate.

transtec believes that, besides Intel CPUs, ARM processors are also the one to watch as they deliver extremely high scalability and parallel computing. “Intel will not be the only key player defining the future of the processor environment. ARM CPUs are also increas-ingly demanding our attention”, explains Dr. Oliver Tennert, Director of HPC Solutions at transtec in Reutlingen, South-West Germany. “Since the launch of the ARMv8 generation with its 64-bit architec-ture, its development has been clearly noticeable in the academic sector. Energy efficiency and value for money are the key factors in favour of ARM processors and will definitely promote their deploy-ment in commercial applications in all research and development areas as well as in private companies.”

The scale-out trend is also being witnessed in storage by the use of parallel file systems. Multi-terabyte data volumes are now a regular occurrence in high performance computing. The challenge is less about data storage and more about the transfer of large data volumes, in other words to retain the performance when the jobflow involves “copying data backwards and forwards” as well as the total job runtime. In response to these challenges, parallel file systems have long since become a favourite in the storage industry. They enable users to effectively save input or result data as well as temporary data during the job runtime.

There are currently four parallel file system solutions available for HPC storage systems: Commercial solutions from Panasas or IBM as well as open-source solutions such as Lustre or BeeGFS from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslau-tern.

Scale-out architectures are also dominating the network industry. Today’s standard for complex HPC applications is InfiniBand. The key benefits of this network interconnectivity solution are its high bandwidth and low latency which enable the high performance of the HPC applications. InfiniBand is also deployed to scale clusters as the point-to-point latency is constantly below 1.2 microseconds despite the growing number of nodes and cores.

“Although InfiniBand currently dominates the market, this popularity is set to decline next year”, predicts Dr. Tennert. “The reason is Intel’s launch of Omni-Path. The announced port-to-port latency between 100 and 110 nanoseconds will record better results than by using InfiniBandEDR to leverage scalability and connect larger networks.”

HPC is one of transtec’s key business areas. HPC systems are becoming an increasingly more attractive option for companies as besides processing intensive computing simulations, they are also used to analyse large data volumes – the keyword being big data. These factors are influencing how companies can stay and make themselves more competitive”, believes Dr. Tennert. “It is not always easy for companies to find the right HPC solution for their needs. This is where transtec can help enterprises by providing extensive support and years of HPC experience in applications from various sectors.”

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Über transtec:

Der IT-Dienstleister transtec AG, mit Sitz im Technologiepark Tübingen-Reutlingen, verfügt über eine einzigartige IT-Expertise, die auf der Kombination seiner Hersteller-, Systemhaus- und High-Performance-Computing (HPC)-Kompetenz basiert. transtec bietet kundenspezifische Lösungen, ein umfassendes Dienstleistungs-Portfolio und erfüllt mit seiner deutschen Cloud die allerhöchsten Sicherheitsstandards. Zu den Kunden zählen öffentliche Institutionen und Unternehmen unterschiedlichster Branchen. Das börsennotierte Unternehmen ist auch mit Niederlassungen in den Benelux-Staaten, Frankreich, Großbritannien und der Schweiz vertreten und erwirtschaftete 2015 einen Umsatz von 44,6 Millionen Euro.

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