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Power and the People

We’ve come to the end of yet another year in High Performance Computing, and what a year it was. It feels as though the HPC Community has kicked into high gear in two very different but tightly related ways. And while our 2021 wrap-up predicted that ethics, inclusivity and green growth would be the HPC trends for 2022 what we didn’t foresee is the passion and dedication we’ve witnessed in making positive progression happen. So, without further ado the year in 2022 — or what we’re calling, “Power and the People.”

The Four Elements of HPC

Four key elements go into the making of a successful High Performance Computing solution: Hardware, Software, People, and Change Management. And while most HPC research, social discussion and media attention has a tendency to focus mostly on expensive hardware and software, 2022 brought about reasons to talk more in-depth on the people and change management needed to keep the momentum of our field going.

Power matters.

While you could consider this in the realm of hardware, the HPC Community firmly placed power consumption outside of hardware efficiency and ranked it a #1 concern during an informal survey we took at the Computing Insight UK (CIUK) event in Manchester at the start of December. Driven primarily by the energy crisis, increased understanding of climate change, and the ongoing war in the Ukraine, it has become apparent to the community that in order for our field to progress beyond exascale the issue of power sustainability will require collaboration between multiple groups addressing the issue from multiple angles.

And while we see that improving hardware and software efficiency will definitely be a key part of the solution, we are also noticing a big shift in HPC users and providers demanding choice over the source of the power itself. Whether it is understanding more about how it is helping or hindering a solution environment, pushing them to strategically utilise public cloud, build solutions on private cloud, or looking to move to more sustainable datacentres, we firmly believe 2023 will see greater focus on how all four elements will come together to take us into the next stages of supercomputing — nuclear fusion breakthroughs aside, of course.

People = Technology

2022 heralded a return to in-person and networking events, and with it, people who came ready to talk openly about the struggles for greater inclusion in HPC. While we’ve made headway in diversifying access to resources in order to bring new technology into our field, the HPC “elephants” in the room — culture, diversity, and legacy — are often left out of what are normally deemed ‘technical events.’ This year proved very different, with demand for open discussion on interpersonal topics skyrocketing, including a stronger focus on racial inclusion and gender parity.

2023 will likely be no different. With the largest supercomputing conference in America next year focusing on the theme of ‘I am HPC,’ and the complexities of our field needing diverse expertise to solve and evolve us to our next stage of growth, we foresee a lot more public discussion forthcoming. The Flight Crew here at Alces welcomes this dialogue as it not only yields greater equity for everyone involved in HPC, but better technology solutions for future generations.

What’s next for Alces?

We have such big plans for 2023 — including in-person returns to ISC and SC, as well as more community engagement with our researchers, clients, partners and collaborators. We’ll be out building, growing, and evolving HPC solutions as well — continuing to bring integration, managed services, software and toolsets to our client base. We’re growing too, welcoming new team members from different countries around the world to diversify our product and service offerings to customers in new geographies.

We wish you all a happy holiday season and look forward to bringing you more in the new year.

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