An Introduction to HPC

What is HPC ?


High Performance Computing and Networking can be defined as computing resources which provide more than an order of magnitude more computing power than is normally available on ones desk top.

This includes the computers, networks, algorithms and environments necessary to make such systems usable. These systems range from a departmental cluster of workstations, up to the largest super-computers.

A Measure of Performance... !

Traditionally HPC systems have been used in the scientific and engineering fields.

These fields are dominated by simulations:

Codes are almost exclusively written in Fortran 77 (90%) and C.

Computations are all highly "floating point" intensive:
The performance measure used is therefore based on how many floating point operations can be achieved in one second (flop/s).

A Measure of Performance... !

Some views of flop/s as a performance measure.

The results of unscientific survey of harassed delegates at a recent computer conference...

The Need for HPC...

Solve/compute increasingly more demanding problems; for example introducing finer grids or smaller iterations periods.

This has resulted in the need for:

Typical application areas include:

The Limitations of Sequential Processing.

What is the alternative?

What is Parallel Processing ?

This is the concurrent use of multiple processors to process data.

Either by:

or by:


Submitted by Mark Johnston,
Last updated 6 April 1995.