High-performance computing (HPC) is heading for the mainstream and will soon be available to desktop computer users, Microsoft has predicted.
According to the software giant, supercomputing – once confined to large-scale CIA code-breaking and Pentagon war games – is about to become readily available to designers and engineers in the automotive sector. The firm claims that the auto industry is entering a period of "profound transformation" that will see HPC moving to the desks of those who design and test consumer vehicles, rather than remain confined to large, expensive computer-room operations.
Demand for HPC is being driven by a combination of increased performance in processors per compute node, low acquisition price per node, and the overall price and performance of compute clusters. These trends are driving new customers to adopt HPC to replace or supplement live, physical experiments with computer-simulated modelling, tests and analysis, Microsoft argues.
In a white paper released today at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars, experts from Microsoft and the HPC sector offered predictions regarding the way HPC will be used with the availability of compute clusters – a collection of small servers that can be accessed from desktop or laptop computers. According to the white paper, entitled 'Desk-Side Supercomputing', this technology has the potential to slash the total cost of HPC ownership to just a few thousand dollars.
"Throughout the auto industry, desk-side computing is empowering people to become ready for entirely new approaches to design, safety and profitability," said John Fikany, vice president of the US Manufacturing Industries at Microsoft.
In a June 2006 study, the analyst firm IDC found that clusters now account for more than half the technical computing market, up from one-third in 2004, and that companies are purchasing HPC clusters because of price, performance, improved system throughput and lower total cost of ownership.
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