High Performance Computing (HPC)
‘High Performance Computing' (HPC), in the simplest term, is defined as distributing a computing job to multiple processors instead of running it on a single processor sequentially for a long duration. Such a job can be exemplified by running a model of simulations to measure the impact of an earthquake of a certain intensity in Istanbul. It is a rather big scale simulation as well as computation, when one considers that in order to get city-wide results each district of the city has to be computed separately along with the interactions between districts. Computation on a single computer (or single processor) can take months, even years, depending on the model detail. In a manner of simplification, assuming the computation of each district model can be distributed to separate computers (or multiple processors) synchronously, we will decrease the time to obtain the results of the whole model. Since the interaction between the districts affects the result, such interactions should be taken into account. The communication between the processors in this distributed computing model is facilitated by a fast, high performance network. Therefore HPC not only requires high performing computing devices (processors, memory, accelerators etc.) but also depends on performance networks. Another important ingredient in HPC, along the high performance hardware, is software that can be run in a parallel fashion.
Nowadays HPC is used in many different areas due to its benefits of saving time and energy. It enables research in many different fields, ranging from weather forecasting to drug development and to defense industry. In addition, HPC has a potential impact in managing the effects of natural disasters. Preventative measures can be taken by analyzing various disaster scenarios in a short period of time by running simulations. For example, in recent years, C-DAC supercomputing center in India, upon the forecast of an approaching typhoon, similar to one that caused 10,000 deaths in 1999, a simulation of a model was performed with the aid of HPC and 700,000 people were evacuated from the area. This way a possible disaster was prevented and thousands of lives saved. Another example of the impact of HPC can be given from the automotive industry; production planning of vehicles is guided by the results of crash tests and safety simulations, which are done using HPC resources.
The importance of HPC, which improves our lives and provides means of fast and reliable services, is increasing worldwide. Usage of HPC in R&D activities and in scientific studies in our country will increase Turkey’s competitive power and contribute positively to the development of science worldwide. The National Center for High Performance Computing aims to effectively provide services to increase awareness about HPC and bring advanced technologies to the use of Turkish scientists.