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What is High Performance Computing (HPC)?

July 4, 2018
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High performance computing (HPC) has become increasingly more popular and important in the world of engineering. But defining what HPC is and figuring out how it can be deployed to aid designers can be tricky. Nowadays, high performance computing is more and more important for the economic and technological development. The high performance computing also becomes an indicator to measure the power of a country. Therefore, it is important and meaningful to improve the performance and universality of high performance computing. High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of super computers and parallel processing techniques for solving complex computational problems.

Basic Description of High Performance Computing  (HPC)

High Performance Computing  (HPC) most generally refers to the practice of aggregating computing power in a way that delivers much higher performance than one could get out of a typical desktop computer or workstation in order to solve large problems in science, engineering, or business.

High Performance Computing  (HPC) allows scientists and engineers to solve complex, compute-intensive problems. HPC applications often require high network performance, fast storage, and large amounts of memory, very high compute capabilities, or all of these. High performance computing runs a broad range of systems, from our desktop computers through large parallel processing systems.

High performance computing  (HPC) refers to the computing system, including several processors as part of a single machine or a cluster of several computers as an individual resource. High performance computing owes its feature of high speed computing to its great ability to process information. Therefore the main methodology that is currently applied to high performance computing is parallel computing. In short, high performance computing is legendary for its processing capacity. For instance, it is shown by the latest analysis that machines can perform 1015 floating point operation per second.

Supercomputers are a specialized subset of HPC that are set aside from ordinary clusters of machines. Sure, supercomputers aggregate computing power to make short work of some of the world’s most complicated problems, but they’re also governed by customized software, oftentimes purposefully written for each problem being addressed.

High Performance Computing (HPC), enabling the processing of large amounts of data, is at the core of major advances and innovation in the digital age. Considering the necessity to deal with these large amounts of data:

  • Industry and SMEs are increasingly relying on the power of supercomputers to work on innovative solutions, reduce cost and decrease time to market for products and services;
  • Modern scientific discovery requires very high computing power and capability: for example, to accelerate genome sequencing by two orders of magnitude and enable scientists to crack cancer diseases.

Thus, the nature of computing is changing with an increasing number of data-intensive critical applications: by 2025z, 25 billion devices will be connected and will generate over two zettabytes of traffic every year.

Major Parts of High Performance Computing System

There are five elements of a high performance computing (HPC): CPUs, memory, nodes, inter-node network and non-volatile storage (disks, tape). Currently, single-core CPUs (processors) are not used any more. So far, the unit (multiple ‘cores’ on a single ‘chip’) that is used on the motherboard constitutes all CPUs (processors). The trend of even more ‘cores’ per unit will increase for several reasons. The node plays a significant role in physically interconnecting CPUs, memory, interfaces, devices and other nodes. Distributed memory is also important for a high performance computing system. Switched and mesh, are two main network types used in high performance computing systems. Given figure illustrates the five parts of the system and the relationship between each other.

High performance computing

Figure: Five Major Parts in Distributed-Memory High Performance Computing System


[1] Kyle Maxey, “What Is High-Performance Computing and How Can Engineers Use It?” available online at:

[2] “High-Performance Computing”, available online at:

[3] Li Luxingzi, “High Performance Computing Applied To Cloud Computing”, Technology, Communication and Transport Degree programme in Information Technology, 2015, Pages. 48.

[4] Dowd, Kevin, and Charles Severance, “High performance computing”, Network 62745: 0.

[5] “High Performance Computing (HPC)”, available online at:

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