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Understanding Azure HPC

Way back when, so the story goes, someone said we’d only need five computers for the whole world. It’s quite easy to argue that Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and the like are all implementations of a massively scalable compute cluster, with each server and each data center another component that adds up to build a huge, planetary-scale computer. In fact, many of the technologies that power our clouds were originally developed to build and run supercomputers using off-the-shelf commodity hardware.

Why not take advantage of the cloud to build, deploy, and run HPC (high-performance computing) systems that exist for only as long as we need them to solve problems? You can think of clouds in much the same way the filmmakers at Weta Digital thought about their render farms, server rooms of hardware built out to be ready to deliver the CGI effects for films like King Kong and The Hobbit. The equipment doubled as a temporary supercomputer for the New Zealand government while waiting to be used for filmmaking.

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