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Four High-Performance Computing Buying Considerations for CIOs

Jonathan Wu, CTO, Data Center Group, Lenovo Asia Pacific | Sept. 12, 2017
Jonathan Wu of Lenovo Asia Pacfic explains what to consider–and look out for–before investing in high performance computing

Warm-water cooling enables an enterprise to shrink the amount of power required to run their HPC systems, directly impacting long-term TCO.

 

Principle 3: Find Partners That Really Believe in Customer Collaboration

High-performance computing can be a complex undertaking, one which can quickly swamp small-to-mid-sized IT departments. For CIOs who would like to invest in HPC, it’s important to realize that they will need to depend heavily on their technology vendor—a fact that many HPC veterans will attest to.

Lenovo recycling captured hot water

As IT departments try to select an HPC vendor, one shortlisting tactic they employ is using datasheets and specifications to compare different vendors.

But making a purchase decision solely on the basis of a datasheet is not advisable. First, because performance numbers on datasheets tend to be based on best-case scenarios, which is not the reality of enterprise IT.

Another, more important, reason is that putting together an HPC system calls for a high level of technical know-how and requires working closely with technology partners. A majority of CIOs who have invested in high-performance computing agree that a key factor in the success of their HPC implementations was how closely they worked with their technology partners.

This was a big worry among IBM’s HPC customers when Lenovo acquired IBM’s System X business in 2014. They wondered whether their close working relationships with experienced engineers and scientists would change.

It didn’t.

What most companies (that offer HPC solutions) do not do is overclocking. Lenovo can exceed the documented speed of the CPU by about 10%.

-Jonathan Wu, CTO, Data Center Group, Lenovo Asia Pacific

The proof? Today, according to the latest Top500 figures, Lenovo has the second-largest market share among HPC vendors, cornering 18.4% of the market.

One example of the distance Lenovo’s HPC goes is when Lenovo was trying to help the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Science and Humanities set up a supercomputer—under a difficult to achieve power-use ceiling. The Lenovo team so much out of their way to accommodate LRZ’s needs that they literally created a new design—one that it now offers to its other customers.

This rare level of customer collaboration has given Lenovo industry-leading customer satisfaction ratings.

 

Principle 4: Make Domain Expertise and Innovation Key Parameters

Primarily because high-performance computing is at the cutting-edge of technology and also because of its forward-looking applications (think AI, real-time predictions, etc.), it’s very important that CIOs choose vendors who can show leadership, an innovative spirit, and deep domain expertise.

Among today’s 10-plus HPC vendors, few are as innovative or have the depth of domain expertise as Lenovo. Take for example, Lenovo’s innovation in overclocking—a key area in the HPC space. “What most companies (that offer HPC solutions) do not do is overclocking. We can exceed the documented speed of the CPU by about 10%,” says Lenovo’s Wu.

 

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