HPC, HPDA and AI: Indispensable tools in the Industry 4.0
We are in the middle of a digital revolution being driven by data and intelligence, including technologies such as High-Performance Computing (HPC), Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The world is ever more digitised, connected, and complex, but the flood of data that is generated can be overwhelming. With a help of the HPC and new technologies this data gain new meanings: they are interpreted quickly, evaluated, and visually projected. As such, data get completely new meaning, showing the patterns and guide researchers and engineers to better products, models or processes in virtually all applications.
Which benefits will you gain as an SME or mid-cap when using HPC in business?
The possibilities resulting from HPC use start with a more precise design of complex work pieces, continue with speeding-up the time-to-market, and conclude with the cost-saving of materials and time savings which could be spent for further R&D.
SMEs still have limited access to supercomputers and they find it challenging to adopt HPC. Additionally, SMEs have limited competence and knowledge to use these complex technologies or are missing information where and how to embrace new technologies. The key concept behind FF4EuroHPC is to demonstrate to SMEs how they can strongly benefit from the use of advanced HPC services (modelling & simulation, data analytics, machine learning and AI, and possibly combinations thereof) and thereby take advantage of these innovative ICT solutions for business benefits. The collaboration between SMEs and the new HPC Competence Centres (and deploying the HPC systems of that extended set) will be encouraged.
- saving time for product/service development and decrease time to market;
- saving costs by optimising data processing tasks;
- higher levels of innovation and more patents;
- more specialised, tailor-made products and services;
- cooperative engagement between Higher Education Institutions and businesses inspires state-of-the-art solutions;
- gaining new knowledge and know-how by R&D experts.
What is HPC?
Because of huge amounts of data, a casual laptop or computer is not capable to process it. HPC, called also supercomputers, provide the opportunity to solve complex problems in different applications. The solution of highly complex applications involving huge computational and/or data analytics tasks cannot be handled by commonplace office computers (e.g. laptops or desk-side machines). Modern HPC systems are built using a hierarchy of processing units (the basic unit being a compute core, the overall systems involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of cores). HPC application software is developed such that the application programs run in parallel, employing large numbers of computing units at the same time.
The majority of supercomputing systems in operation today are classified as petascale systems - this means a supercomputer system can process more than a petaflop (this is 1015 operations per second). In computing, floating point operations per second (flops) is a measure of computer performance. In recent years, the R&D world has been striving to shift supercomputing to the next level, to Exascale (1018 floating point operations per second). It is hard to imagine how capable supercomputers are calculating this huge amount of data in seconds. To easier understand performing units, we can put exaflops numbers in perspective:
To match what a one exaflops computer system can do in just one second, a human has to perform one calculation every second for 31,688,765,000 years. Or – we can match what a one exaflops computer system can do in just one second, every single person on Earth has to calculate 24 hours a day for over four years!
Beside calculating and processing the huge amount of data, HPC is used for simulations and visualisations, e.g. virtual testing of safety-relevant car driving systems, finding the appropriate locations for small wind turbines, design of yacht sails, analysis of seismic data, prediction of air quality, simulation of the binding capacities of target drug compounds in medicine and much more. Using HPC for product optimisation brings significant benefits, as prototyping of the products is often an expensive and time-consuming process.
HPC is becoming more accessible than ever before – scientists, researchers and engineers can run HPC workloads on on-premise infrastructure or can use resources from public cloud service providers.
Many success stories from different industries across Europe are based on HPC. Get inspired on how to improve your business.
Europe endeavors to develop flagship exascale supercomputers for processing big data, based on competitive European technology to be more competitive but above all, independent from the global powers. Learn more about the European HPC ecosystem on the ETP4EuroHPC website.
New technologies for reaching the next level: HPDA and AI
High performance data analytics (HPDA) connects HPC with big data to analyse extremely large data sets in real-time. The aim of HPDA is to overcome highly complex analytics problems and to help scientists to discover new patterns and insights through R&D activities. Today, HPDA is frequently used in applications which generate big data and request data mining, e.g. climate modelling or weather forecast, disease prediction and fraud detection.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes as an intersection between HPC and Big Data. Artificial intelligence refers to computer programmes that are capable of learning and making decisions based on patterns calculated from Big Data. AI-based programmes depend on algorithms and are capable to identify patterns, learn and provide already evaluated results. AI applications are practically limitless – AI can help in all domains, which are challenged by Big Data and Deep learning. HPC is still not a commonly used technology in business, but it is becoming an indispensable tool involved in any sector or industry, bringing advancements and shifting business to the Industry 4.0 level.