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At Virtual SC: HPE CTO Michael Woodacre Talks Progress toward Exascale and How HPC & AI Work in Tandem to Fight Disease

At Virtual SC20, we caught up with HPE’s Michael Woodacre, HPE Fellow and chief technology officer of HPC & Mission Critical Systems, who updated us on the company’s involvement with all three of the U.S.’s first exascale systems, scheduled for delivery starting next year. Woodacre, who comes from a heritage with SGI, which was acquired by HPE in 2016, talks about working with the Pete Ungaro-led team from Cray, acquired by HPE last year.

In addition, on the topic of exascale computing, Woodacre made this point about its implications for the greater HPC industry:

We definitely see exascale as the new era of computing…, We’re bringing all of these kinds of workloads (HPC, AI and others) together, it’s becoming a really heterogeneous environment…But they also scale down because we see, even in smaller HPC deployments and in the broader enterprise use case, they have similar challenges in needing to process ever increasing amounts of data to link together different types of processing, and have real-time analytics, to leverage the power of AI techniques.

Woodacre also spoke about the critical role HPC and AI play working side-by-side in the discovery and development of treatments for COVID-19 and other diseases. For example:

We’ve been involved in some collaborations doing natural language processing on medical research, so literally, you’ve got tens of thousands of documents that one doctor is just not going to be able to read and make sense of it. But by using AI techniques, you can provide question-and-answer interfaces to process that data and then … we can use AI techniques to narrow the search for compounds, and use that narrowed down search to do the high resolution molecular dynamics simulations, using traditional HPC modeling to focus how we’re using equipment.

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