Virtualization has attractive features that could benefit HPC, but many have waved it off due to the perceived performance hit. That may be changing.
Over at the Long White Virtual Clouds Blog, Michael Webster writes that an upcoming session at VMworld will show how HPC performance in a virtualized system can actually surpass Monte Carlo Grid performance on bare metal.
The Air and Missile Defense Department’s Combat Systems Development Facility at JHU Applied Physics Laboratory relies on large-scale, Monte-Carlo simulations to perform classified combat systems performance assessments and concept studies for multiple Department of Defense sponsors. The increasing demand for modeling and simulation work drives the ever growing requirement for additional high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities, but reduced IT budgets and tribally managed infrastructures dictated that we learn how to use existing resources more efficiently. This session explains how we successfully pooled the resources of independent Linux and Windows HPC grids into a 2720-core, fully virtualized, high-performance computing platform that has allowed our engineers to achieve decreased runtimes by an order of magnitude. In addition to consolidating two dis-joined clusters for improved utilization, the ESXi abstraction layer reveals a specific use case that realizes a 2.2% performance increase over its native hardware configuration.
Is this use case just an anomaly? Webster cites an HP whitepaper with more use cases of a virtualized platform on vSphere outperforming a native implementation.