Putting the HP in HPCBy Steve Wexler | Posted 2009-11-17 Email Print
Looking to extend its reach into the high-performance computing market, HP has announced a number of new products, including the ProLiant G6 blade, 'skinless' server technology, storage, and software.
While other segments of the IT industry have been suffering along with the economy, high-performance computing (HPC) has been relatively recession-proof says HP, which is making significant additions to its Extreme Scale-Out (ExSO) portfolio. These new offerings, including the HP ProLiant G6 blade, 'skinless' server technology, storage, software and interconnect/networking products, are intended to reduce customers' total cost of ownership and increase data center capacity.
"We're reaffirming and updating an approach we've been taking to the high-performance computing market for a number of years," said Ed Turkel, manager, business development for HP's Scalable Computing and Infrastructure organization. "People are running out of capacity in the data center, running out of power and cooling," as well as out of the data center where HPC clusters can cause severe heating issues in an office.
HPC is all about performance, he said, and customers have an insatiable demand. The typical server utilization is 30 percent, and customers are grappling with how to increase that utilization. "On the high-performance computing side we have a different problem," virtually 100 percent utilization. This creates a very different issue, how to feed that appetite for more performance. Additionally, while they want -- and are willing to pay for -- more computing power, they are also restricted by space and power constraints.
This is very good news for the channel, said Turkel. Not only is the existing market growing, but new users are cropping up and HP needs its channel partners to deal with this demand. In addition to traditional applications like simulations and modeling in the manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, resource and government markets, there are new markets emerging like financial services (i.e. risk analysis) and health sciences.
"It gets back to this insatiable need for more performance. We're seeing many new users coming into the HPC market." Some of the financial institutions are creating data centers with thousands and even tens of thousands of servers, but for applications like life sciences, most of the research gets done in small labs, said Turkel.
Another benefit for HP and its channel partners is the company's approach to HPC. Turkel said there are two broad camps, one set of vendors creating proprietary solutions like Cray and IBM, and another set creating white-box x86 server solutions. "We like to think of ourselves as taking the best of both sides of that," combing performance and lower costs to reach the broadest span of the market. "That plants us somewhat in the middle but we're competing very effectively at both ends of the market."
As part of the ExSO announcements, the ProLiant BL2x220c G6 features two two-socket blade servers (Intel Xeon 5500 chips) into a single sized blade compartment that fits into HP's c-Class chassis, as well as squeezing in another 33 percent higher memory capacity.
Providing 18 percent lower power consumption, the first AMD-based ProLiant SL server, the 165z G6 also comes with a 10 percent lower price tag. Featuring HP's skinless system architecture built on a lightweight rail and tray design, it 'dramatically reduce capital, facilities and shipping costs while using a fraction of the space normally required within a data center. Other announcements include improved system efficiency through dynamic workload management, automated provisioning and resource scheduling via Moab Adaptive Computing Suite (ACS) integration. Moab ACS operates across software stacks and operating systems, including Unix, Windows and Linux. Also new are the 40Gbps (4X QDR) InfiniBand switches and host channel adapters, as well as a large port-count 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch via integration with Mellanox, QLogic and Voltaire interconnect solutions.