Embarking on the Future with High-Performance Computing


High-Performance Computing (HPC) has rapidly evolved from being a luxury exclusive to major corporations and research institutions into an essential tool for contemporary start-ups and Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Its prowess in executing intricate calculations at phenomenal speeds marks HPC as a revolutionary tool across various disciplines, including scientific research and business analytics.

HPC employs the strategy of pooling computing power to achieve a performance level far surpassing that of an average desktop or workstation. This is made possible through the use of supercomputers and clusters of computers tailored to solve complex computational issues. Given the data-centric nature of the modern world, the significance of HPC is burgeoning as businesses, irrespective of their size, continuously generate and process an overwhelming volume of data. For future leaders to maintain a competitive edge, understanding the critical role of HPC in the digital age is paramount.

The Pervasive Influence of HPC in Today's World

The importance of HPC is ubiquitous, with applications spanning a diverse array of fields such as weather forecasting, climate research, quantum mechanics, and even the search for extra-terrestrial life. In the business sphere, HPC contributes significantly to analysing customer data, optimizing supply chains, and predicting market trends.

HPC also plays a pivotal role in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI). The computational power required for training AI models is immense, and HPC presents the resources needed to manage these intensive tasks. For instance, OpenAI, the organization behind the GPT language models and ChatGPT, leveraged HPC for training its models. Similarly, other generative AI models for art, text, and motion graphics extensively utilize HPC.

HPC and Cloud Computing: A Dynamic Duo

While traditional HPC systems depended on on-premise supercomputers, the rise of cloud computing has made HPC more accessible than ever before. Cloud-based HPC solutions outshine their on-premise equivalents due to their scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, which allow businesses to pay solely for the resources they utilize.

Prominent cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure offer customizable HPC solutions to cater to the distinct needs of businesses. With their global data centres, these providers guarantee low latency and high availability.

Structuring HPC in the Cloud: Critical Considerations

Constructing an HPC solution in the cloud warrants careful scrutiny of several elements, including the choice of processor, network configuration, storage solution, and the software stack.

1- Processor Selection: The choice of processor relies heavily on the specific computational tasks the HPC solution will execute. CPU (Central Processing Unit) is ideal for tasks demanding high single-threaded performance, whereas GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) or FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) are better suited for parallelized tasks.

2- Network Configuration: For an HPC solution to operate at peak performance, a high-bandwidth, low-latency network is crucial, ensuring swift communication among nodes in an HPC cluster.

3- Storage Solution: Given the vast amounts of data HPC applications typically handle, high-performance storage systems capable of delivering data at high speeds to the processors are imperative.

4- Software Stack: The software stack, comprising the operating system, HPC middleware, and application software, plays a critical role. The middleware, which encompasses job schedulers and message passing interfaces, is vital for managing the HPC cluster resources and facilitating node communication.

HPC in Action: Bridging Theory and Practice

HPC has solidified its relevance across various sectors, including finance for risk modelling and fraud detection, retail for supply chain optimization and personalized marketing, and the scientific community for a broad spectrum of applications, from climate modelling to genomic sequencing. These practical applications underline the versatility and prowess of HPC.

Genomic Sequencing: Researchers can leverage HPC to analyze vast genetic data, such as sequencing the human genome, a process otherwise prohibitively time-consuming without HPC's computational power. This can lead to significant advances in personalized medicine and genetic research, with cloud-based HPC enabling startups to delve into this field without substantial investments.

DeepMind, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup founded in 2010, was acquired by Google in 2014. In 2020, DeepMind's AlphaFold 2 protein structure prediction model was able to predict the structure of almost every known protein, a feat that was previously thought to be impossible. AlphaFold 2 was able to achieve this breakthrough by exploiting the power of Google's high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure.

Drug Discovery: Pharmaceutical industry leader AstraZeneca exploits the power of cloud-based HPC for its computation-intensive workloads. With the help of Cloud HPC, start-ups in this niche can simulate molecular interactions and predict the efficacy of potential drugs, significantly accelerating the drug discovery process and reducing costs.

Supply Chain Optimization: HPC can aid retailers in optimizing their supply chains by analyzing extensive data, leading to cost reductions and enhanced efficiency. This can prove highly beneficial for SMBs aiming to streamline their operations, with cloud-based HPC presenting a more cost-effective alternative.

AI Training: HPC finds extensive application in AI, particularly in training AI models. These models require a significant computational power that HPC can provide. For instance, AI firm OpenAI employed HPC to train its GPT-3 model, a language prediction model capable of generating human-like text.

Real-Time Computational Physics: HPC's exciting applications extend to real-time computational physics. For example, leading AI hardware company Cerebras uses its Wafer-Scale Engine (WSE) to perform real-time computational physics simulations, an achievement made possible by the WSE's ability to perform trillions of calculations per second, enabling it to simulate complex physical systems in real time.

HPC: Wafer-Scale Processing and Beyond

The horizon of High-Performance Computing (HPC) is electrifying, with innovative technologies like wafer-scale processing, which promises to escalate HPC to new levels. This technology, epitomized by Cerebras in their WSE, involves creating a single, gigantic chip spanning an entire silicon wafer. This method facilitates unprecedented levels of integration and performance.

Cerebras' WSE-2, the second-generation wafer-scale engine, is the largest chip ever created. It is 56 times the size of the most extensive existing CPU. Spanning over 46,000 square millimeters, it boasts 2.6 trillion transistors and houses 850,000 cores, all on a single chip. The sheer magnitude of the cores integrated into one silicon piece allows the WSE-2 to deliver staggering performance levels.

Real-Time Computational Physics with Wafer-Scale Processing

HPC finds another exciting applications in real-time computational physics. For instance, Cerebras utilizes its Wafer-Scale Engine for performing real-time computational physics simulations. These simulations are made feasible due to the WSE's ability to execute trillions of calculations per second, simulating complex physical systems in real-time.

The Future of HPC

The future of HPC is promising, with new technologies and applications consistently emerging. Key trends expected to shape the future of HPC include:

1- Exascale Computing: The potential to perform a billion billion calculations per second. Although still in its infancy, exascale computers could revolutionize industries such as healthcare, energy, and manufacturing.

2- Cloud-based HPC: This cost-effective, scalable approach is set to become the prevalent model for accessing high-performance computing resources as cloud computing continues to expand.

3- Convergence of HPC and AI: The coming together of these two powerful technologies opens up novel possibilities for solving complex problems. For instance, HPC can be used to train large AI models, while AI can optimize HPC applications.

4- Wafer-scale Processing: This promising technology could facilitate exascale computing. It involves integrating thousands of processors into a single wafer, leading to significant performance improvements and the ability to scale HPC systems even further.

Other trends that will impact the future of HPC include the development of new materials and architectures for HPC, the increasing use of accelerators like GPUs and FPGAs, and the growth of the open-source HPC community.


The future of HPC is filled with promise, and it's thrilling to envision the possibilities this technology will unlock. HPC is primed to play a significant role in shaping the future world. Be it a future leader, Startup founder, or contemporary business owner, understanding and leveraging the power of HPC can provide a competitive advantage. Harnessing HPC allows rapid and accurate data analysis, facilitating more informed decisions and propelling your business forward.