IBM and Singapore work on HPC and Clouds

Monday 10th May 2010
HPC and Clouds. Courtesy:

Back in December, Canada's Platform Computing scooped CERN as a user for its cloud management and HPC cloud enabling software solutions. Now IBM and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have a collaborative effort to R&D a platform for cloud computing convergence with and high performance computing (HPC) intended to create commercial adoption solutions by engaging industries and commercial users. The two target area are interactive digital media and business analytics.

Mid 2009 the major concern in HPC was performance. Primary determinants of performance are data locality and locality of reference, communications latency and bandwidth. While there was no reason in principle why cloud computing vendors could not make determinants selectable by cloud users, none of them was reported  as accessible through cloud computing offerings.

Early into the action

Platform Computing and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research are using Platform LSF grid infrastructure to pilot the world’s largest cloud computing environment for scientific collaboration. Using Platform’s private cloud management and HPC cloud-enabling software solutions, Platform ISF and Platform ISF Adaptive Cluster, CERN believes the cloud project will allow them to deliver increased computing performance and offer better infrastructure services to its 10,000 researchers from 85 countries.

IBM takes HPC and Cloud to Singapore
For IBM leveraging its HPC Centre, one of ASEAN's  fastest, greenest supercomputers to-date, NTU will work with IBM to combine strengths of cloud computing and HPC to further reinforce Singapore's position as a vibrant, global R&D hub engaged with innovative technologies and applied research relevant to industry adoption.

IBM is also working with HPCC and NTU's College of Science and College of Engineering to explore how HPC-cloud computing can provide greater computing power, while lowering the barrier to entry to parallel computation.

The collaboration is expected to push the frontier of cloud computing technology and help develop globally competitive local expertise that will be able to support commercial interests in cloud computing and HPC technology.

Foong Sew Bun, Chief Technologist (right)  of IBM Singapore, said: "Collaboration between IBM and NTU pushes the envelope of technology to test leading edge applications that will benefit faculty, students, and also business and government organisations that seek to leverage the power of cloud computing and high performance computing."

"Convergence of cloud computing and high performance computing, access by NTU faculty, research staff and students to HPC resources will be dramatically increased, accommodating different computing demands and workloads," said Professor Soh Yeng Chai, (left) Associate Dean of College of Engineering, NTU. "This will place NTU at the forefront of high performance computing, and hopefully encourage SMEs as well as large organisations to leverage HPC-cloud computing."

The collaboration follows NTU's participation as charter member of the IBM Cloud Academy since November 2009. The Academy empowers members to create working groups on areas of interest to the education industry and the industries they collaborate with; to "jam" on new innovations for cloud computing in education-related areas with IBM's cloud computing experts, and work jointly on technical projects across institutions, share research findings and exchange new ideas for research and education.

While this initiative will enable the entire faculty of NTU to embark on HPC and cloud computing projects relevant to the different departments supporting various industries (engineering, mathematical sciences, finance/business, medical and pharmaceutical research, and so on), it will begin initially with two target areas:

Interactive Digital Media 
aligned to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's (IDA) view that digital media and entertainment will open up new interactive and immersive possibilities and that Singapore should establish itself as a centre for the creation of interactive digital media technologies, the power of cloud computing and HPC will make it possible for students and media and entertainment companies alike to create content and services.

Business Analytics 
Technology - business analytics, in particular - will play a key role in shaping and transforming how institutions do business, as it gives them comparative advantage to capture the emerging growth opportunities for services in Asia.

The NTU-IBM collaboration will boosts several ongoing projects NTU's HPCC and NTU's School for the Art and Design Media have been working closely with IBM to provide a larger and more dynamic pool of computing power for animation and research projects.

With the incorporation of HPC-cloud computing, parallel computations such as rendering and related activities can be made quicker and more dynamic.  HPC-cloud computing will also enable student, faculty and staff to test and experiment software and concepts rapidly too.

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