Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Performance on-demand with cloud computing

In previous HPC blog posts, we’ve discussed several methods for speeding up your simulations with high-performance hardware. However, this hardware can be a significant investment for a company or research group.

For example, the costs of a cluster for MPI computing are not limited to purchasing the hardware – it includes enterprise-level interconnects and, if necessary, GPU cards. There is also the cost of installation to consider, along with the need for a dedicated technician whose job it is to maintain the system, training for users and the rapid obsolescence of HPC equipment. For customers with very large workloads, an MPI cluster can be a worthwhile investment, but for smaller companies, occasional simulations probably won’t justify this expense.

For these users, cloud computing provides a very useful connection to the world of HPC. Instead of using computing resources on-site, they can upload their models to a cluster owned by a cloud computing provider such as Bull extreme factory. They then hire time on the cluster to carry out the calculations, and when they are complete, view the results with a visualization session or download them.

Since you only pay for the time when you’re using the cluster, cloud computing can be very economical for occasional jobs. To help these users, we offer special cloud computing licenses with durations from as little as a week. Because CST STUDIO SUITE® comes pre-installed on the cluster, you can begin using it right away.

The cloud computing workflow is simple, and doesn’t differ greatly from the usual workflow that our users are familiar with. Our portal on Bull extreme factory allows you to manage your data, licenses and simulation tasks through a simple webpage, and it also lets you start a visualization session. This launches a window with the CST STUDIO SUITE user interface, allowing you to control and view the simulation just as it would appear if it was running on your own workstation. Settings can be adjusted easily, and results can be viewed without having to download the entire file.

Cloud computing is very flexible – you can choose how powerful a cluster needs to be for the job and when  you need it – and while very large companies, who need HPC almost constantly, might find that owning a dedicated cluster is still the most efficient option, cloud computing levels the playing field for small and medium companies. Security is of course a key concern for many companies, and so data can be transferred using a secure channel with HTTPS and, where available, a VPN. Additional security features are available on demand.

Cloud computing clusters are well-equipped to take advantage of the HPC features of CST STUDIO SUITE, with multi-core processors, GPU cards and high-speed interconnects. These features can be activated using acceleration tokens in the same way that local resources are.

With the introduction of cloud computing, CST STUDIO SUITE now has a HPC solution for almost every need and price range, from entry-level to enterprise. See the HPC section of our website or contact your local sales representative to discuss the best HPC option for your requirements.

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