Supercomputing is behind the enormous speed with which COVID-19 vaccines have been developed as well as in the simulation of ‘digital twins’ to accelerate the development of new products and, recently, to train AI models at high speed. We had the opportunity to chat with Adriano Galano, AI & HPC Sales Specialist Southern Europe from HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) about the possibilities and challenges of supercomputing at the present time. The video interview is available here:
[MCPRO] What is supercomputing? What is its importance for science and for business innovation?
[AG] Supercomputing (or HPC) is the area of computing that deals with solving the most complex or scalable problems in science or industry. Modeling and simulation techniques are used in very powerful computers connected to each other that are capable of executing calculations in parallel. In this way, complex equations and mathematical models are represented, going through complete virtual products such as cars, airplanes, or ships, to systems for advanced research, such as weather forecasting, studies on climate change or discovering the mysteries of the Universe.
[MCPRO] Which countries stand out in supercomputing? What is the position of the EU?
[AG] We are immersed in a global race to build the most powerful supercomputer in the world, capable of exceeding 1 Exaflop of power, we call this the Exascale Era (1 Exaflop is 1 trillion mathematical operations per second, a 1 followed by 18 zeros) .
In this race, countries such as the United States or China stand out, but also Japan, South Korea, India or Saudi Arabia, which are allocating significant investments to supercomputing. Supercomputing is one of the key digital areas in which the EU is expected to increase investment significantly in the next multiannual financial framework (2021-2027).
In addition, supercomputing will play a critical role in Europe’s path to recovery, as it has been identified as a strategic investment priority. Through the EUROHPC JU mechanism, the EU is in the process of acquiring powerful Pre-Exascale supercomputers like LUMI in Finland or Peta-Scale size like Karolina in Czechia.
Other very noteworthy supercomputers that are being deployed in Europe are ALPS at the CSCS in Switzerland or the UK Met project, the UK meteorological agency, a project worth more than 1,200 million pounds sterling.
“For every euro invested in supercomputing, companies obtain a return of 140 euros”
[MCPRO] In what fields is supercomputing especially useful?
[AG] From Science to Industry, it is difficult to find a field that cannot benefit from supercomputing or Artificial Intelligence. Without supercomputers, several COVID-19 vaccines would not have been developed in record time.
No industry (aerospace, nautical or automotive) is capable of producing new products today without first simulating them with supercomputers. Using the “digital twin” technique, a prototype is modeled in which a multitude of
scenarios and, once it is clear that this direction is the right one, we move forward with physical prototypes. In addition, thanks to supercomputing we can anticipate natural disasters and mitigate their effects, before these disasters occur.
Several studies have shown that for every euro invested in supercomputing, companies obtain a return of 140 euros.
[MCPRO] What types and sizes of companies can benefit from supercomputing?
[AG] Supercomputing is strategic for organizations of almost any size. Ms. Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, indicated for a long time that we are 15 years behind other countries. It is vital for IBEX35 companies, but also for medium-sized and even small companies (startups) that they all design their own products. Supercomputing is not elitist, but it is specialized, which is why it is also important that universities do their part so that more graduates specialized in High Performance Computing emerge.
Regarding the type of companies that can benefit from supercomputing, on the one hand, larger companies that have Data Centers and Human Resources to maintain them must invest aggressively in equipping themselves with these capacities to increase their competitiveness. There is a phrase that sums it up very well “who does not compute, does not compete”.
“Supercomputing is strategic for organizations of almost any size”
On the other hand, small and medium-sized businesses can access these expensive resources through the much more affordable Cloud (As-a-Service) models that HPE can provide through GreenLake for HPC. Any company can, with the help of HPE, can bring innovation to its products and services.
The future of the economy will depend on its sustainability, and that happens because the industry in Spain massively adopts supercomputing. In other countries these machines are massively bought and we have to eliminate this gap to be competitive.
[MCPRO] What supercomputing solutions does HPE currently offer?
[AG] HPE has the broadest range of computing, storage, software and services solutions for Supercomputing and Artificial Intelligence. From small and medium clusters based on our leading HPE Apollo line, to large Exascale supercomputers like HPE Cray EX. The R&D that makes Cray machines unique is taking HPE Apollo computers with two differentiating elements: the Slingshot interconnect system and the software stack.
Our supercomputing solutions are available with all flexibility in delivery models ranging from the proprietary model to the Greenlake model for pay-as-you-go HPC. From the extreme to the Exascale. Made by experts and with the support of experts.
[MCPRO] What does a company need to make the leap to supercomputing? How can HPE help you with these projects?
[AG] Our experts and professional services HPE Pointnext, as well as our large network of partners have all the tools to accompany a client on their path of Supercomputing and Artificial Intelligence.
It does not matter what stage the client is in. We are your best technological partner with the highest value solutions for the technological impulse of your organization. For more information, they can visit hpe.com.