Jun 26, 2023
Rhyming History: HPC, Manufacturing, and Moving Forward
By Doug Eadline August 31, 2023 In a recently posted press release, HPC4EI Announces In-Person Workshop on the Future of HPC in the US Manufacturing Sector, The DOE wants to help expand the use of HPC
By Doug Eadline
August 31, 2023
In a recently posted press release, HPC4EI Announces In-Person Workshop on the Future of HPC in the US Manufacturing Sector, The DOE wants to help expand the use of HPC for US manufacturers. Specifically, the press release states, “DOE seeks to expand the use of its HPC resources to benefit US manufacturers, especially small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). This workshop will explore the opportunity space for utilizing HPC resources to address challenges faced within the US manufacturing sector and will encourage dialogue and networking between government programs, manufacturing companies, national laboratories, and the broader research company.”
Bringing HPC to the manufacturing industry is a laudable and important goal because technical computing has demonstrated it can save manufacturing costs and improve production. Learning about the HPC4EI workshop brings to mind the Mark Twain quote, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.“
The effort to bring HPC into the manufacturing sector has been introduced previously. Indeed, back in 2004-2005, the Council on Competitiveness (COC) led an effort to help bring technical computing to the manufacturing sector. The Council has for more than three decades, used its position as a unifier across the competitiveness ecosystem, bringing together members from academia, business, labor, and the national labs to champion a nonpartisan action agenda that fuels entrepreneurship and spurs the commercialization of new ideas. The Council has a great catch-phase: “To out-compete is to out-compute.“
As part of the council program in the early 2000’s, a study was commissioned by the COC and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to explore the usage and impact of high-performance computing (HPC) resources in industry and other business sectors The study by IDC asked about both capacity-class computers, purchased primarily to address many small and medium-sized problems, and capability-class computers, purchased mainly to tackle the largest, most daunting individual problems.
The 33 participants in this study are seasoned private-sector chief technology officers (CTOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and production and research managers representing a wide range of business segments that employ HPC in 2004.
The reports resulting from two of the studies are still available from ClusterMonkey.net:
The surveys are more than twenty years old, and the summary of conclusions from the 2004 IDC High Performance Computing Users Survey seem to echo many issues of the present day:
Of particular note are technical barriers, tools, ease of use, and, as mentioned in the report under item 3, “the lack of available talent in the marketplace.” For the most part, these issues have been a challenge for HPC since its inception and continue to this day. In addition, HPC has always been treated separately from the mainstream data center regarding hardware, management, training, software tools, and personnel.
Of course, the leading-edge science and engineering market has always pushed the performance envelope using the latest and greatest technology. For the most part, however, standing up an HPC cluster (on-prem or in the cloud) still requires a particular set of skills not found in the mainstream data center workflow experience.
If there was an easy answer, excellent workshops like HPC4EI event probably would not be needed. A recent article on HPCwire about CIQ’s Fuzzball, which combines the best of enterprise tooling with the latest in modern HPC technology, represents one possible path forward. The continued growth of HPC may have more to do with listening to the rhyming echos of the past than the press release hardware of the future.““