Benchmark tests to grade commercial HPC gear

Organizations looking to deploy a high-performance computing (HPC) environment may be able to better ease into the technology with the help of an online resource designed to provide system consultation and benchmarking.

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Linux Networx Inc. (LNXI), a provider of Linux-based high-performance computing solutions, launched its Solution Center Monday, geared at businesses and independent service providers (ISVs).

The purpose of the Center is to improve the buying experience around HPC technology for customers by helping them optimize the underlying hardware for their particular application, said the company’s vice-president of technical marketing, Eric Pitcher. “It can really help them make the best technical decisions.”

There are myriad choices to be made when deploying HPC technology, he said, including those around processors, mode of interconnecting computer nodes, interconnect fabric, and type of storage.

The Center forms part of LNXI’s existing Validated Performance Engineering (VPE) process, meant to help IT managers and system administrators roll out production-ready, performance-tested HPC systems without having to learn the intricacies of Linux and clusters prior to deployment.

Typically, deploying an HPC environment entails weeks of research to piece together required components into a working, productive system and to ensure the customer reaps the full potential of the technology. With the Center, LNXI engineers use the available production-ready HPC systems to assess a business’ needs prior to the purchase of the technology.

LNXI also uses the Center to generate detailed reports on a system’s performance.

But besides LNXI engineers, customers and ISVs can access frequently updated hardware and software configurations to test specific ISV codes and ensure computer nodes complement business requirements.

The Center resources are available to companies of all sizes looking to deploy an HPC system, said Pitcher.

The increasing commoditization of HPC technology and its emergence in the enterprise has shifted LNXI’s approach in this arena, by helping eliminate the complexity around cluster computing with tools like Solution Center, said the company’s vice-president of marketing, Kim Wellman.

Besides meeting the need for production-ready systems, the Center provides organizations the resources to make up for the often lack of HPC and Linux expertise, she added.

Furthermore, the Center resources alleviate a buying process that’s become increasingly complex due to the expanding range of vendor technology, said Pitcher.

One factor contributing to the complexity of HPC deployment in the enterprise is the large number of vendors offering packaged solutions, agreed William Terrill, associate senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. However, he added, the choice is often made easy when certain communities tend to stick to familiar vendors.

HPC solution vendors aside, Terrill said the development of HPC code used to be a major hindrance in the enterprise because the code was largely internally developed and proprietary. However, that’s changing, he added, as more code becomes available.

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