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Dell Aims To Bring HPC To The Mainstream

by Adam Armstrong

Today at SC15 in Austin, Texas, Dell announced several innovations and partnerships around bringing high performance computing (HPC) to the mainstream. These new innovations include HPC systems for genomic data analysis and for manufacturing and research. The partnerships are with Intel, Mellanox, as well as the momentum Dell is gaining from its customers and its user community.

Today at SC15 in Austin, Texas, Dell announced several innovations and partnerships around bringing high performance computing (HPC) to the mainstream. These new innovations include HPC systems for genomic data analysis and for manufacturing and research. The partnerships are with Intel, Mellanox, as well as the momentum Dell is gaining from its customers and its user community.

Organizations of all sizes that want to innovate and compete need the innovations that can only be garnered with HPC. However, building and maintaining their own HPC system can draw attention away from their primary business models not to mention IT resources my be lacking the expertise to operate HPC systems. According to the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, 98% of all products will be designed digitally by 2020, yet 95% of the center’s 300,000 manufacturing companies have little or no HPC expertise.

To address the demand for mainstream HPC, Dell is introducing its new family of HPC and data analytics solutions, Dell HPC System Portfolio. Dell states that these systems will combine the flexibility of custom systems with the simplicity, reliability and value of a preconfigured, factory-built system.

Features include:

  • Simplified design, configuration, and ordering in a matter of hours instead of weeks
  • Domain-specific design that’s designed and tuned by Dell engineers and domain experts for specific science, engineering and analytics workloads using flexible industry-standard building blocks
  • Fully tested and validated systems by Dell engineering with a single point of hardware support and a wide range of additional service options

The new portfolio of application-specific HPC Systems include:

  • Dell HPC System for Genomic Data Analysis is designed to meet the needs of genomic research organizations to enable cost-effective bioinformatics centers delivering results and identifying treatments in clinically relevant timeframes while maintaining compliance and protecting confidential data. The platform is a result of key learnings from Dell’s relationship with Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to help clinical researchers and doctors expand the reach and impact of the world's first Food and Drug Administration-approved precision medicine trial for pediatric cancer. TGen has been able to improve outcomes for more patients by creating targeted treatments at least one week faster than they could be accomplished previously.
  • Dell HPC System for Manufacturing is designed for customers running complex manufacturing design simulations using workstations, clusters or both. Applicable use cases include Finite Element Analysis for structural analysis using ANSYS Mechanical & Computational Fluid Dynamics for predicting fluid behavior in designs utilizing ANSYS Fluent or CD-adapco STAR-CCM+.
  • Dell HPC System for Research is designed as a foundation, or reference architecture, for baseline research systems and numerous applications involving complex scientific analysis. This standard cluster configuration can be used as a starting point for Dell’s customers and systems engineers to quickly develop research systems that match the unique needs of research customers requiring systems for a wide variety of research agendas.

Along with the new solutions Dell is bring further innovations to HPC through its partnerships. Through its ongoing partnership with Intel, Dell is expanding Dell HPC Innovation Lab, specifically for support of the Intel Scalable System Framework. This expansion includes additional domain expertise, infrastructure, and technologists. The lab is designed to unlock the capabilities and commercialize the benefits of advanced processing, network and storage technologies as well as enable open standards across the industry. Along with the expansion of the lab, Dell is working with Intel on its Intel Scalable System Framework, which includes Intel Omni-Path Fabric technology, next-generation Intel Xeon processors, the Intel Xeon Phi processor family, and the Intel Enterprise Edition for Lustre. Dell and Intel are jointly announcing:

  • New Dell Networking H-Series switches and adapters for PowerEdge servers featuring the Intel Omni-Path Architecture.  These provide a next-generation fabric technology designed for HPC deployments. The architecture includes advanced features such as traffic flow optimization, packet integrity protection and dynamic lane scaling allowing for finer-grained control on the fabric level to enable high resiliency, high performance and optimized traffic movement.
  • Dell and Intel support for the Linux Foundation’s OpenHPC community. The community is designed to provide a common platform on which end-users can collaborate and innovate to simplify the complexity of installation, configuration and ongoing maintenance of implementing a custom software stack and easing a path to exascale.
  • Dell will showcase many components of the Intel Scalable System Framework including Intel Omni-Path Architecture, Intel Enterprise Edition of Lustre, and Intel Xeon Phi processor family. In addition, Dell is hosting numerous confidential advisory sessions with customers at the show gathering insights to help optimize its implementation of systems using next-generation Intel Xeon Phi.

Another ongoing partnership that Dell is furthering today is its relationship with Mellanox Technologies. The two companies have worked together in the HPC community for some time and have already published numerous best industry practices and application case studies with the HPC Advisory Council demonstrating superior application scalability and performance. The two companies announced additional investment in Dell’s existing HPC Innovation Lab to provide an end-to-end EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand supercomputer system. This new system is designed to showcase extreme scalability by leveraging the offloading capabilities and advanced acceleration engines of the Mellanox interconnect as well as provide application specific benchmarking, and characterizations for customers and partners.

Dell also announced it was continuing to deploy its HPC solutions around the world helping organizations drive scientific advancement as well as economic and global competitiveness.  Many countries are looking to HPC as it is critical to interests such as science, industrial productivity, climate change, energy, security and other industry verticals. Some of the HPC solutions Dell as deployed include:

  • The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego recently launched its new Comet petascale supercomputer powered by Dell PowerEdge C6320 servers. Comet is designed for modest-sized projects such as economics, genomics and social sciences, which represent a great amount of research and potential scientific impact.
  • The Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin provides comprehensive advanced computing resources and support services to researchers in Texas and across the U.S. The center specializes in high-performance computing, scientific visualization, data analysis and storage systems, software, research and development and portal interfaces.
  • Two years after the HiPerGator supercomputer was introduced at the University of Florida, it is now being expanded to add capacity and capabilities with 30,000 cores in approximately 1,000 nodes made by Dell. HiPerGator performs complex calculations and data analyses for researchers to find life-saving drugs, make decades-long weather forecasts and improve armor for troops.
  • The Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town, South Africa is currently in the process of upgrading its system to provide more simulation and data-centric science capabilities. For this upgrade, the Center had four constraints: physical data center space, power, cooling and budget.
  • Jetstream, scheduled to enter production in January 2016 at Indiana University, is a new and creative approach to delivering computational resources to an increasingly diverse community of scientific research and education. A user-friendly cloud environment, Jetstream is designed to give researchers access to interactive computing and data analysis resources on demand, whenever and wherever they want to analyze their data.


The Dell HPC System for Genomic Data Analysis is available now. The Dell HPC Systems for Manufacturing and Research is expected to be available in early 2016. The Dell Networking H-series switches, adapters and software based on the Intel Omni-Path Architecture is expected be available in the first half of 2016.

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