The term high performance computing (HPC) refers to any computational activity requiring more than a single computer to execute a task.

Supercomputers and computer clusters are used to solve advanced computation problems.

HPC has the capacity to handle and analyse massive amounts of data at high speed. Tasks that can take months using normal computers can be done in days or even minutes. It can be used to model and solve highly complex problems across a range of high value sectors.

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Major applications include:

  • Data storage and analysis
  • Data mining
  • Simulations
  • Modelling
  • Software development
  • Visualisation of complex data
  • Rapid mathematical calculations

HPC can be used to:

  • Develop and redesign products
  • Optimise production and delivery processes
  • Analyse or develop large datasets
  • Conduct large-scale research projects
  • Store large amounts of data for future analysis
  • Perform consumer trend monitoring, searching or profiling
  • Create computer visualisations that explain research results
  • Carry out simulations and / or modelling of complex processes

Computational Science – and with it the associated computational resources and HPC technology – has now established itself as the “third pillar” of scientific enquiry alongside theory and experiment.

HPC can help speed up a number of advanced and innovative engineering and manufacturing activities.

It can help conduct simulations which reduce the need for prototyping and modelling, hence assisting new product design, project management techniques, quality control analysis, and the testing and development of advanced materials such as composites used in the aircraft industry. The auto industry use HPC to help improve the safety of cars, reduce emissions and increase speed.

Creative organisations are increasingly looking to the power of supercomputing to assist them.

HPC can help with creative design, the development of gaming and virtual technologies, the production of high-end 2D and 3D visualisations, and animation and film-making.

HPC has great relevance to the development of alternative energy sources and the exploration of environmental challenges.

It can be used to research and model climate change to advise policy developments, develop climate resistant crops, design and produce efficient and renewable energy sources (for example, bio energy), model weather patterns, explore alternative waste disposal, or breed plants to create bio-chemical alternatives to oil-based chemicals.

The growth of data and information is making high performance computing ever more relevant to financial and professional organisations.

HPC can help turn data into information to inform business behaviour and enhance profitability. It can also help organisations such as banks and accountancy firms carry out financial forecasting and model customer behaviour, helping to predict future trends.

High performance computing can be used to develop software tools for application by the ICT sector as well as other organisations.

It can be used to improve performance and productivity through enhanced software engineering techniques, to improve and grow telecommunications systems, and to develop distributed management systems for smart distribution network operation and management, exploiting novel near to real-time HPC solutions with inherent security and intelligent communications.

HPC has a wide number of applications to health and biosciences.

It is used for modelling purposes where physical testing is impractical, for bio engineering and plant-based development work, and for a large number of medical developments. Examples include the design of new drugs, the development of remote surgery techniques, gaining insight into ageing and genetics research, and managing the massive amounts of data involved in genomics research, research that is fuelling the future of Personalized Medicine.

High performance computing has many uses for the construction industry.

It can be used to model and design new structures, develop new building materials and test site safety in a virtual environment.

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