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December 9, 2013

Making Music with HPC

Tiffany Trader
HPCmusic words

In this increasingly compute-driven society, high-performance computing has touched nearly every academic discipline and many industry sectors as well – from materials science to medicine to manufacturing. But what about music? Music may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of HPC, but that may soon change.

Earlier today, the HPC Advisory Council announced the establishment of the HPCmusic Subgroup, “an advanced research project that focuses on the usage of High-Performance Computing (HPC) to enable advancements in music production and creation.”

Leading the HPCmusic subgroup is chair Antonis Karalis. In 2012, Karalis was selected for the HPC Advisory Council University Award for research in the field of HPC-assisted music.

The use of powerful computers enables audio quality that would not be possible with lesser equipment. The music industry has already established a roadmap for high-quality audio. Specs such as 3D, HDR, IMAX Cinema, Dolby Atmos, 6K Cinema and 4K TV with HDMI 2 will be recognizable to those industry specialists as well as their audiophile consumers. Enhancements to the cinematic experience, whether at home or in the cineplex, are ongoing, and that of course includes an emphasis on visual and audio – and sometimes even the other senses (Smell-O-Vision, anyone?)

In line with this continuing enrichment of audio tracks, HPCmusic’s first task was the creation of the HPC384 Spec. The specification aims to ensure that music production stays on par with other industry innovations and best practices by providing music professionals with the tools and techniques to create high quality content that meets the expectations of a discerning audience.

The HPC384 Spec also addresses cost per GFLOPS.

“Floating point operations are crucial for audio performance,” the Council points out. “So solutions based off the HPC384 Spec have been shown to be up to 35X more cost- effective compared to industry standard solutions.”

Going forward, as HPCmusic subgroup chairman Antonis Karalis explains, the subgroup has a vision of building a supercomputer customized for music.

“We are defining the ‘building blocks’ of the first true supercomputer for music production,” he states. “The ultimate goal is to define a virtual environment based on a system that is completely transparent from the end-user, and is capable of creating the music of the 21st Century.”

Gilad Shainer, chairman of the HPC Advisory Council, discusses the endless possibilities that are opened up by bringing the power of HPC to music. “Through the work the HPC Advisory Council’s HPCmusic subgroup, we are able to expand the usage and performance potential of HPC in more areas beyond the academic and scientific realm,” he states.

To directly experience the transformative power of HPC on audio quality, tune in to this video:

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