How Goes the Democratization of Supercomputing?
Small and medium businesses consider moving to HPC
Entry prices for high performance computers have descended from $5 million-plus in the 1980s, to about $1 million in the 1990s, to under $100,000 today. During this time, the HPC server market quadrupled, from about $2 billion to $8.6 billion in 2009. Has HPC use fully migrated from the Washington corridors of power to Main Street? Not exactly. IDC studies show that small and medium businesses (SMBs) weighing the move to HPC face important cost and ease-of-use barriers. Yet, the future is promising.
SMBs that have vaulted the barriers, such as aerospace/automotive suppliers BMI, Intelligent Light, L&L Products and Swift Engineering, report major advances in innovation and time-to-market. And organizations such as the Council on Competitiveness, National Association of Manufacturers, National Center for Manufacturing Services, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and others are easing the transition to HPC for their constituencies.
Steve Conway is Research VP, HPC at IDC. He may be reached at editor@ScientificComputing.com.