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Engineering Productivity Optimized: Workstation-Centered Computing

IT Best Practices

Employee Productivity and IT Innovation

November 2010

Silicon design engineers—located at multiple Intel sites worldwide—use a variety of design applications running on more than 50,000 servers. But not all sites have adequate local data center space to host the compute capacity required to support business-critical design engineering. In particular, some small design sites must host their interactive applications at remote data centers. Slow interactive application response times negatively impact engineers at these sites.

To address this problem, we devised an innovative way to deliver local access to high-performance computing (HPC): workstation-centered computing. Clustered workstations located in office cubicles form a “virtual rack” (see Figure 1), similar to a physical rack of servers in the data center. The result is faster design cycles as well as the ability to quickly meet business needs for compute capacity.

In a pilot project, we found that workstation-centered computing can provide performance, remote manageability, and data security equivalent to that of servers hosted at local data centers. In addition, with design computing requirements growing about 45 percent year over year, we can improve business agility by delivering required computing capability faster and at an overall lower capital investment compared to building new data centers or retrofitting existing ones. We also found that the workstation-centered computing approach can reduce energy-related expenses.

Based on our pilot, we believe that workstation-centered computing can make HPC performance more widely available to companies in other industries and lines of business that don’t have available data center space or the expertise to build a specialized HPC environment.

Read the full Workstation-Centered Computing Best Practices.

Engineering Productivity Optimized: Workstation-Centered Computing

IT Best Practices

Employee Productivity and IT Innovation

November 2010

Silicon design engineers—located at multiple Intel sites worldwide—use a variety of design applications running on more than 50,000 servers. But not all sites have adequate local data center space to host the compute capacity required to support business-critical design engineering. In particular, some small design sites must host their interactive applications at remote data centers. Slow interactive application response times negatively impact engineers at these sites.

To address this problem, we devised an innovative way to deliver local access to high-performance computing (HPC): workstation-centered computing. Clustered workstations located in office cubicles form a “virtual rack” (see Figure 1), similar to a physical rack of servers in the data center. The result is faster design cycles as well as the ability to quickly meet business needs for compute capacity.

In a pilot project, we found that workstation-centered computing can provide performance, remote manageability, and data security equivalent to that of servers hosted at local data centers. In addition, with design computing requirements growing about 45 percent year over year, we can improve business agility by delivering required computing capability faster and at an overall lower capital investment compared to building new data centers or retrofitting existing ones. We also found that the workstation-centered computing approach can reduce energy-related expenses.

Based on our pilot, we believe that workstation-centered computing can make HPC performance more widely available to companies in other industries and lines of business that don’t have available data center space or the expertise to build a specialized HPC environment.

Read the full Workstation-Centered Computing Best Practices.

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