What does High-Performance Computing (HPC) mean?

High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of parallel processing for running advanced application programs efficiently, reliably and quickly. The term applies especially to systems that function above a teraflop or 1012 floating-point operations per second. The term HPC is occasionally used as a synonym for supercomputing, although technically a supercomputer is a system that performs at or near the currently highest operational rate for computers. Some supercomputers work at more than a petaflop or 1015 floating-point operations per second.

High-performance computing is typically used for solving advanced problems and performing research activities through computer modeling, simulation and analysis. HPC systems have the ability to deliver sustained performance through the concurrent use of computing resources.

The terms high-performance computing and supercomputing are sometimes used interchangeably.

High-performance computing (HPC) evolved due to meet increasing demands for processing speed. HPC brings together several technologies such as computer architecture, algorithms, programs and electronics, and system software under a single canopy to solve advanced problems effectively and quickly. A highly efficient HPC system requires a high-bandwidth, low-latency network to connect multiple nodes and clusters.

HPC technology is implemented in multidisciplinary areas including:

  • Biosciences

  • Geographical data

  • Oil and gas industry modeling

  • Electronic design automation

  • Climate modeling

  • Media and entertainment

  • All the processors in a supercomputer can work (doing computations) at the same time - this is known as parallel computing. By doing many calculations in parallel, a supercomputer can do things that require large numbers of computations much faster than a single-processor computer.

  • Programs and code designed for single processor computers need to be modified so the calculations done by the program code can be run in parallel to take advantage of the large number of processors in a supercomputer.

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