Saving Energy with Supercomputing

By David Craddock, High Performance Computing Wales

December 2, 2013

Many Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the UK and beyond are unaware that supercomputing can help them become more energy efficient.

With major energy suppliers recently announcing yet more price hikes, companies across all industries are feeling the pinch.

Three of the ‘big six’ British energy firms have increased their prices between eight and ten per cent on last year’s costs, and this rise could have a profound effect on the performance of SMEs across the country and beyond.

In addition, in our digital age, it is only a natural progression for businesses to increasingly boost their performance by using advanced software for data-intensive tasks such as advanced modeling and simulation, analysis of Big Data and the rendering of high-definition 3D graphics.

However, with the additional computational power, time and energy required to complete these demanding tasks, many businesses require further support to meet their customers‘ needs, and to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Many SMEs are unaware that this support could arrive in the form of supercomputing, also known as high performance computing. Often the belief is that access to supercomputing technology is limited to only the largest companies with the biggest spending power.

Although traditionally the preserve of blue chip companies and academia, SMEs can now benefit from access to supercomputing technology, training and support. The technology can significantly boost their output, while increasing their in-house energy efficiency.

So how can supercomputing help businesses achieve this?

Significant time savings

With the power of supercomputing, businesses can vastly reduce the time they spend on demanding data-intensive tasks, significantly reducing their power consumption.

One SME that has benefited from supercomputing support is Wales-based ThinkPlay.TV, an animation company founded in 2006. To date, its virtual animation work and media sets have featured on the likes of Playstation, Wii and Xbox games consoles and national UK television channels.

Typically, before the company used supercomputing, scenery would take eight hours for them to render in-house, giving them a maximum of two weeks to meet client deadlines. Furthermore, with only two desktops carrying out rendering for large periods of time, the co-founders were both unable to work on anything else.

Now, with the use of supercomputing technology, projects that would normally have taken days to complete, are finished in hours.

As work can be completed so much faster, it has helped the firm win bids for more projects, as well as significantly reducing the energy that it spends on in-house computing processes.

Remote access

Accessing supercomputing technology remotely can save businesses energy in a number of ways.

Firstly, they do not have to travel to access a supercomputing hub. This in itself presents energy savings to businesses. In addition, with remote access technology, businesses can benefit from high performance computing on their own desktop and laptop computers, without the need to continually update in-house technology.

As supercomputing dramatically increases the speed of computing processes, this will then free-up other on-site IT resources. Therefore, using supercomputing boosts companies’ overall IT capacity because all data and power intensive processing is taken off site. Doing so will also help to reduce business’ overall onsite energy consumption.

Remote access to high performance computing can also be provided ‘on demand’, so companies’ use is efficient and timely, and therefore energy and resources are not wasted on ‘idling time’ from machines.

A company directly benefiting from this remote access to supercomputing technology is Calon Cardio-Technology Ltd. The company is designing and developing the next generation of affordable, implantable micro blood pumps for the treatment of chronic heart failure.

Calon Cardio uses supercomputing to simulate the flow of the blood inside the pump. Prior to using supercomputing running just one case could take up to a week, whereas now that process can be shrunk to less than a day, or even a few hours.

Green data centre management

When considering a potential supercomputing provider, businesses should ensure that the supplier has invested in dedicated Data Centre Infrastructure Management software or DCIM. This allows providers to balance computing capacity, or power drawn, with the current IT load at the time. This means that when the load is low, providers can switch hardware into ‘low activity’ or ‘standby’ modes to save energy and its associated costs.

Companies should also be sure to confirm whether a provider’s servers are designed to automatically go into ‘idle’ or ‘deep sleep’ modes during longer periods of inactivity.

Ensuring that suppliers have engaged with these critical energy-saving facilities will help to ensure that savings are passed on to businesses, but also ensures that their carbon footprints remain as small as possible.

Final thoughts

It’s clear to see that supercomputing has a valuable role to play in boosting the competitive capability and energy efficiency of SMEs in a wide range of sectors. The UK Government’s current investment is testament to its perceived value to the future of British business.

This is down to the fact that supercomputing can reduce the time taken to complete data-intensive tasks, freeing up business’ IT systems to allow them to complete other tasks more easily.

This significant reduction in time-taken to complete tasks also results in increased energy-efficiency for SMEs, allowing them to reinvest this time and money into other aspects of service delivery for their customers.

Furthermore, by using a supercomputing provider that is already committed to saving energy, companies can also feel safe in the knowledge that their own commitments to green business practice remain intact.

How can businesses find out more about using supercomputing technology?

Whilst purchasing a dedicated supercomputer is clearly out of most small companies’ reach, there are now a number of providers in the UK offering companies access to supercomputing technology, training and support.

Supercomputing providers across the UK are increasing the level of support available, as they recognise that many businesses have no experience of using this technology. This means businesses don’t need any previous experience of supercomputing to enjoy its benefits.

About the Author

David Craddock is chief executive officer of HPC Wales. Prior to his appointment, David Craddock was Director of Enterprise and Collaborative Projects at Aberystwyth University, responsible for leading a team of over thirty and developing the enterprise strategy for the University. Working with the senior management team, David also led a number of change management programmes including business planning for the Aberystwyth/Bangor Partnership, and the merger of the BBSRC research funded institute IGER into the University. A BA (Hons) graduate from Middlesex University, David previously worked for two Unilever companies over a 23 year period, mainly in international marketing, product development and business development roles in the detergent and speciality chemicals markets. In addition, he has been Director of two SMEs in the technical textile and electrical engineering markets.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in 2017 with scale-up production for enterprise datacenters and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fine-Tuning Severe Hail Forecasting with Machine Learning

July 20, 2017

Depending on whether you’ve been caught outside during a severe hail storm, the sight of greenish tinted clouds on the horizon may cause serious knots in the pit of your stomach, or at least give you pause. There’s g Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged

July 19, 2017

Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the Nationa Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's output. The Japanese multinational has made a raft of HPC and A Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the computer we use most (hopefully) and understand least. This mon Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives voted to accept the recomme Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Summer Reading: IEEE Spectrum’s Chip Hall of Fame

July 17, 2017

Take a trip down memory lane – the Mostek MK4096 4-kilobit DRAM, for instance. Perhaps processors are more to your liking. Remember the Sh-Boom processor (1988), created by Russell Fish and Chuck Moore, and named after Read more…

By John Russell

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provides participants the opportunity to network with industry lea Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fine-Tuning Severe Hail Forecasting with Machine Learning

July 20, 2017

Depending on whether you’ve been caught outside during a severe hail storm, the sight of greenish tinted clouds on the horizon may cause serious knots in the Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Intel Skylake: Xeon Goes from Chip to Platform

July 13, 2017

With yesterday’s New York unveiling of the new “Skylake” Xeon Scalable processors, Intel made multiple runs at multiple competitive threats and strategic Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This