Cloud-Based High Performance Computing (HPC) Applications: Purpose & Examples

Instructor: Giorgos-Nektarios Panayotidis

George-Nektarios has worked as a tutor and student consultant for five years and has a 4-year university degree in Applied Informatics.

What is Cloud-Based High Performance Computing (HPC)? We'll find out all about that in this lesson. Some of the complicated domains where Cloud-Based HPC is used will be analyzed and services provided by major Cloud vendors will be mentioned.

A proper knife to slice a big bread!

Let's assume that you own an ordinary kitchen knife that is used for slicing an ordinary loaf of bread; such a knife is owned by almost every household. Now imagine that you find yourself with a very large loaf of bread that you want to slice too. What's the solution? A proportional knife! Now, think that ordinary computing is represented by the normal knife, the normal input/data by the ordinary loaf of bread and the quite abnormally large loaf of bread represents Big Data. What do we need to slice this? High-Performance Computing (HPC)! Due to the fact that Cloud is often used to implement HPC, Cloud-Based High Performance Computing has come to life as a fitting combination and this will be the object of this lesson.

Cloud-Based HPC

By definition, in High-Performance Computing there are multiple processors, which, as they are interconnected with computer memory and I/O components, formulate a superior processing power that is the most defining element of HPC. Traditionally, HPC was incarnated as a supercomputer, but nowadays all forms of heterogeneous processing components may bind together to form a modern HPC. An example of the latter is Cloud-Based HPC.

HPC Cloud applications are extremely diverse! Depending on the Cloud Service Provider, one might come across multiple scientific and business-related applications. Examples may be medical, such as clinical or genomic applications and financial, such as financial portfolio optimization apps.

High Performance Computing is implemented rather easily and naturally in the Cloud, due to the ''pay-as-you-go'' Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) arrangement. As HPC is most often implemented through parallel processing, multiple virtual machines are rented by the interested party, thus forming a virtual cluster, that is, a virtualized interconnected set of computers.

Complex Cloud HPC applications and examples

Grid computing

Grid computing is often defined or described as the computing in which a multitude of heterogeneous (or diverse) machines are interconnected in order to multiply processing power and storage room. Grid computing is thought to mostly appear in an academic context or so-called batch applications. Grid computing is able to be combined with HPC Cloud. This often happens when virtual clusters of High Performance Computing are interconnected and thus function as a grid, which sometimes extends to the whole globe. This complex field has been called Hybrid Computing. An example of such a service offered is Microsoft's Azure Grid. Examples uses are weather modeling and earthquake simulation.

Big Data analysis

Perhaps one of the most important implementation of the combination of Cloud computing and High Performance Computing is Big Data analysis, especially in the field of healthcare and medical applications. The big picture in which this application fits in is the enormous abundance of data, which stems from the World Wide Web but is not structured. Such data may come from social media, be medical-related, belong to logs or emails and many more sources. It is thought to offer a vast potential if processed correctly, it is growing much faster than other data types and is commonly known as Big Data.

''Mining'' this type of data and processing it via queries in the traditional manner seems to produce much overhead and to seriously lag, thus reducing performance. A Cloud-Based solution is much more efficient for such a difficult task. An example of such a service is Google Cloud's Healthcare & Life Sciences Solutions. A use for this service is Human genomics, which can generate 100 Gb per person of raw data for analysis and storage.

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