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The permanent revolution driving development of increasingly powerful high performance computing (HPC) technologies has broken out of its original market of scientific research and transitioned into the enterprise, finding a strategic convergence point at big data analytics. It is here—within such disciplines as machine learning, business intelligence, predictive analytics and cognitive computing—that the combined power of clustered servers, advanced networking, massive data oceans and application software intersect to create the new big data world unfolding around us. The ripples of this massive wave has been tremendous to say the least. This has started a rat-race between the HPC heavy weights, with HPE (NYSE: HPE) leading it by a fair distance. The reason? HPC has been one of the key components of HPE’s vision and growth strategy and the company has a prime focus on strengthening it on a continual basis. The latest strategy been to acquire Cray, a leading innovator in supercomputer solutions. “By combining our world-class teams and technology, we will have the opportunity to drive the next generation of high performance computing and play an important part in advancing the way people live and work,” states Antonio Neri, the CEO of HPE.
So how would really strengthen HPE’s HPC arsenal and position them as the undisputed leaders?
Currently, HPE offers world-class HPC solutions, including HPE Apollo and SGI, to customers worldwide and this portfolio will be further strengthened by leveraging Cray’s foundational technologies and adding complementary solutions. The combined company will also reach a broader set of end markets, offering enterprise, academic and government customers a broad range of solutions and deep expertise to solve their most complex problems. Together, HPE and Cray will have enhanced opportunities for growth and the integrated platform, scale and resources to lead the Exascale era of high performance computing. Not only that, the combination of HPE and Cray is expected to deliver significant customer benefits such as future HPC-as-a- Service and AI / ML analytics through HPE GreenLake, and enhanced supply chain capabilities leveraging US-based manufacturing. HPE has plans to create a high-performance computing product family using its new assets in combination with the new Cray products.
The Undisputed Leaders
Although the recent acquisition of Cray will propel HPE to the ultimate glory in the HPC space, the company has been the biggest OEM driver and beneficiary of HPC market growth for numerous years now. In 2003, HPE— then part of HP—slightly outpaced IBM to become the global HPC market leader by posting $1.8 billion in HPC server revenue. Fast forward to full-year 2016 and HPE more than doubled its total to $3.9 billion, or 34.6 percent of the global market, not counting the contribution from HPE's acquisition of SGI. With SGI revenue added on a pro forma basis for both years, HPE's HPC server revenue rose from $2.0 billion in 2003 to $4.2 billion in 2017. That equaled 34.2 percent market share, compared with 19 percent for HPE's nearest rival.
By combining our world-class teams and Technology, we will have the opportunity to drive The next generation of high performance computing And play an important part in advancing the way People live and work
HPE also achieved strong performance in 2018, Neri's first full fiscal year since he took the helm from Meg Whitman. The company reported higher-than-expected sales growth of seven percent to $30.9 billion, including 25 percent year over year growth in the HPC space.
Through its Apollo Product Lineup, HPE provides high-density, energy-efficient, memory-intensive systems that scale from midrange to leading-edge supercomputers. Standout characteristics include massive scale-out range and advanced water cooling (no exotic liquids), designed to allow data centres to fit more compute and memory power into their power and spatial envelopes. HPE Apollo systems leverage the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Intel’s platform innovations are aimed at the convergence of HPC and AI, and are supported by a broad software ecosystem, along with lower latency and greater capacity for improved efficiency. These systems also exploit that Intel Omni-Path Architecture (Intel OPA) that's designed as a low latency interconnect for scalable performance in multi-node environments, such as AI training applications.
Strong on Security
While HPE Apollo product lineup is designed to allow data centres to fit more compute and memory power into their power and spatial envelopes, the HPE Gen10 servers offer comprehensive security features, down to the silicon. HPE Secure Compute Lifecycle, which includes the company's purpose-built iLO5 silicon chip, is designed to provide unexcelled protection, detection, and recovery capabilities. HPE engaged InfusionPoints to conduct an independent, comparative assessment of the security of the Gen10 Server line hardware and platform firmware against three of HPE's industry competitors. Tests included attacks against physical interfaces, platform firmware, and network interfaces. InfusionPoints reported that the HPE Gen10 server line is a significant step ahead of its competitors.
And the clients love it! In an instance, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Centre leveraged HPE technology to build Bridges: a supercomputer that aims to be as easy to use as a laptop. The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Centre provides researchers with access to supercomputers for solving the most challenging problems in science and engineering, including treating complex diseases and protecting the environment. Detecting cyberattacks. Curing breast cancer. Predicting severe storms. A common thread among these vexing challenges is their computational complexity. No ordinary computer can crunch calculations on a large enough scale to help researchers understand them. And the alternative: that class of highpowered systems known as supercomputers tends to be expensive and complex to build and manage. PSC’s traditional user base used to include only engineers, chemists, and physicists, people who typically brought some specialized HPC skills.
The Future Outlook
Having carved a unique niche for itself in the HPC space, question may arise that what’s next for the giants? Neri mentions, “Answers to some of society’s most pressing challenges are buried in massive amounts of data. Only by processing and analyzing this data will we be able to unlock the answers to critical challenges across medicine, climate change, space and more, and we are ready for bringing the change.”
Hyperion Research forecasts that the global market for HPC server systems will continue growing at a robust CAGR rate to reach $19.6 billion in 2022 and that the overall HPC market that also includes software, storage and service will expand to $38 billion in that year. We believe the rapid rise of data intensive simulation and analytics, including economically important new use cases for HPDA and AI/ deep learning, will ramp up demand for leading-edge HPC systems that balance strong processors/accelerators with strong memory capacities and data transfer rates, along with advanced software stacks that enable the systems to operate efficiently and resiliently even at ultra-large scale (e.g., exascale). Systems of this kind are future-facing, because they are the first to tackle emerging workloads and use cases that promise to become economically very important within five years, such as autonomous vehicles, precision medicine, smart cities and the Internet of Things. HPE, already the revenue leader in the global HPC market, has positioned itself well to become a strong player in the market for leading-edge HPC systems with the company's HPE Apollo product series and HPE SGI 8600 system. The company is already building a successful track record in this strategically important market. HPE's acquisition of SGI boosts the combined company's ability to pursue opportunities for the largest supercomputers, including exascale systems.
Neri has expressed a long-term commitment to the HPC market and the company is engaged in serious R&D initiatives on multiple fronts. Last year, HPE was awarded a research grant from the U.S. HPE is also an active member of the Gen-Z consortium that aims to develop a new universal interconnect designed to provide memory semantic access to data and devices via direct-attached, switched or fabric topologies that will enable simpler and more powerful computer architectures. Gen-Z’s efficient, memory-semantic protocol simplifies hardware and software designs, and supports a wide-range of signaling rates and link widths that enable solutions to scale from 10s to 100s of GB/s of bandwidth. Another important, sometimes under-recognized contributor to HPE's success is Hewlett Packard Labs, which conducts world-class research on topics highly relevant to the HPC community, such as characterization and benchmarking of deep learning problems and solutions.
It is short and simple. HPE Apollo series and the HPE SGI 8600 system will continue boosting the HPC market leader's potential for additional growth in the expanding global market for high performance computing systems in the foreseeable future.
July 29, 2019