The Democratization of HPC and Vacuum Cleaners

Often this term is used around the HPC industry referring to the use of HPC to help companies and R&D accelerate the process of innovation.   One close to home example that comes to mind, because I own one of his products, is James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson* vacuum cleaners.   By all means he is a success story, but the road to success, by his own account, was paved by many failures along the way.  According to Dyson, it took him 15 years, nearly his entire savings and 5127 prototypes to develop his creation.   Could HPC technology have streamlined his success?


A May 2008 study on the Industrial use of HPC for innovation, sponsored by DARPA, DOE, and Council on Competitiveness, concluded that “HPC-based virtual prototyping and large-scale data modeling provide breakthrough insights that dramatically accelerate and streamline not only ‘upstream’ R&D and engineering, but also ‘downstream’ business processes such as data mining, logistics and custom manufacturing.”    And while, “the United States is the largest consumer of HPC…. some U.S. firms are not applying HPC as aggressively as they could.”

Going back of Dyson’s example, granted a decade ago the use of HPC was limited to few industries, the HPC industry has grown dramatically and so the availability, access and affordability of the computing resources that can significantly streamline the time of discovery to accelerate innovation.  The availability, affordability and combination of powerful workstations, servers, and software can allow a designer to more quickly and efficiently innovate ideas for form, fit and function.  You might want to read this blog on “Why you need a Digital Workbench” by Thor Sewell.   And while cost might be mentioned as one of the barriers to HPC adoption, can you afford to persevere for 15 years and risk your savings?, like Dyson did.  As of matter of fact, companies are innovating around providing HPC services to the “masses”  by lowering the adoption barriers on a “pay-as-you-go-basis.” So while Dyson learned from each of his 5127 so called “failures” over 15 years and nearly his entire savings, HPC technology allows us to accelerate the time from idea to reality process you can more quickly streamline innovation cycle process:  from creating, to simulating, to analyzing , to visualizing.


*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others