HP unveils high performance computing for enterprises

HP hopes to broaden the use of high-performance computing (HPC) from science and academia to businesses with its new range of ‘Apollo’ supercomputers.

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) hopes to broaden the use of high-performance computing (HPC) from science and academia to businesses with its new range of ‘Apollo’ supercomputers.

At HP Discover in Las Vegas this week, the company launched the ‘Apollo 6000’ and ‘Apollo 8000’ systems, plus HP Helion Self-Service, a private cloud solution that provides customers with pay-as-you-go access to HPC.

Supercomputers have traditionally been used by scientists and researchers, for example for weather forecasting, code breaking and nuclear test simulations. However it is increasingly being used in the commercial sector, notably by EDF, Airbus and Renault’s Formula One racing division.

Air-cooled Apollo 6000 is aimed at enterprise customers and uses approximately 46 percent less energy than standard data centres, according to HP, while Apollo 8000 (pictured) includes newly patented water-cooling technology and offers four times the performance of standard rack servers.

Apollo 6000 is currently being piloted by Intel and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is testing Apollo 8000.

According to NREL’s Computational Science Centre director Steve Hammond, the laboratory expects to save $1 million in operating expenses per year thanks to the system’s heat-capturing capabilities.

HP Enterprise’s chief technologist Dave Chalmers explained that the Apollo 8000 uses room-temperature water rather than cold water to cool its servers, thus saving a huge amount of energy.

Speaking to ComputerworldUK he said: “The 8000 servers take it to the next level. It’s a water cooled system, but warm water rather than cool.

“In the past the water was cooled down, but now it’s at room temperature…water is about 1,000 times more efficient than air at dissipating heat. The 8000 is the most exciting high-end high energy product we’ve had for a long time.”

Water cooling is currently only used for the Apollo 8000 (as opposed to the 6000) because it is more difficult to deploy and more complex, thus driving a higher cost, according to HP.

A spokesperson explained: “Water cooling may become more prominent in the future but there is a lot of time and effort that needs to take place in solutions and deployment before that. As of right now, water cooling is reserved for systems where maximum performance in a very small space is required.”

HP led the HPC market last year with a 32 percent share while its closest rival, IBM, took 28 percent of the overall market, according to IDC.

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