Who Uses HPC?

June 30th, 2009 12:09 pm
Posted by Douglas Eadline
Tags: , , , , , , ,

High Performance Computing it not just for rocket scientists
Many of the big headlines in HPC come from the Top500 List. While this list is valuable in it's own right, it does not speak to the many quiet breakthroughs and advances made possible by cluster computing.
HPC is now more than a method for government labs or universities to push the limits of science. It has become a tool for creating products and content, solving problems, and optimizing processes. For example, most people would be surprised to learn that HPC has touched everything from coffee, to bathing suits, to washing machines, and the list is growing. Visit The Council on Competitiveness for more examples.
Of course there are more traditional areas, that touch our daily lives, where HPC has become an indispensable tool. These include the bio-sciences where humane genome data is deciphered and bio-molecules are studied to better understand and improve our quality of life. Oil discovery and recovery would be much more of a coin-toss (and much more expensive) without the use use of HPC. The weather forecast you looked at today is the product of many HPC cycles running 24x7 on a cluster. And finally, without HPC we would not have Shrek (or Donkey) that invite us laugh and cry as they move about the big screen in ways never before possible.

The answer to "Who Uses HPC?" is undoubtedly the scientists and engineers that are developing the products and processes that touch our lives. Perhaps more importantly, is who benefits from HPC? The answer to that is of course, "you and I." As our ability of capture and manipulate "our world" in digital form continues to grow, so does our ability to make better decisions and create a better future.


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Author Info

Dr. Douglas Eadline has worked with parallel computers since 1988 (anyone remember the Inmos Transputer?). After co-authoring the original Beowulf How-To, he continued to write extensively about Linux HPC Clustering and parallel software issues. Much of Doug's early experience has been in software tools and and application performance. He has been building and using Linux clusters since 1995. Doug holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Lehigh University.