5 Reasons US Government Agencies Should Increase Investment in HPC

A new opinion piece from Hyperion Research, sponsored by Dell Technologies and AMD, recommends that the US government increase its investment in high-performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing. The article, titled “To Out-compute is to Out-competite: Competitive Threats and Opportunities Relative to US Government HPC Leadership,” outlines the benefits of HPC, reviews recent trends, and forecasts future needs.

The report contains the following five reasons why U.S. agencies urgently need to spend more on HPC:

1. Every dollar spent on HPC generates $507 in revenue.

As part of a separate project funded by the US Department of Energy Office of Science, the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, Hyperion Research has been tracking the return on investment (ROI) of HPC investments since 2013 .

The numbers are surprisingly high.

For every dollar invested in HPC, companies in finance, manufacturing, life sciences and transportation generate $504 in additional sales. Industrial companies are seeing almost as high a return on investment, generating an additional $452 in revenue for every dollar spent on supercomputing. And on average, those additional sales generate $38 in additional profit or cost savings.

2. HPC research saves lives.

Historically, government research that relies on HPC has helped save lives in a variety of ways, including:

  • By predicting severe weather, giving people time to evacuate, or making other arrangements to lessen the impact of catastrophic storms.
  • By modeling nuclear accidents and other types of difficult or undesirable events to test, helping to prevent and prepare for these types of situations.
  • By analyzing test and real-world data to help make cars, planes and other vehicles safer.
  • By helping to investigate and develop strategies to prevent criminal activity, including cybercrime.
  • By helping to develop military technologies that reduce military and civilian casualties.
  • By empowering the Department of Energy to secure its nuclear stockpile while preventing nuclear proliferation and reducing nuclear threats around the world.
  • By enabling genetic and medical research that can help treat and prevent serious diseases.

Most of these efforts continue today, and the government is also using HPC to study sustainable energy and other ways to combat global climate change.

3. Investing in HPC keeps the country strong.

Many US agencies are involved in public/private partnerships that allow innovations from government HPC projects to flow to the private sector, and vice versa. These efforts help the country maintain its dominant position in the global economy.

Moreover, by buying the HPC hardware maker from US companies, the government is boosting the US technology sector, which plays a huge role in today’s economy. These investments help ensure that the country will maintain its position of strength around the world.

The report also notes:

“Investments in high-performance computing (HPC) are recognized globally as a fundamental tool for carrying out R&D and advancing the economic competitiveness of nations. More countries than ever are increasing spending on HPC infrastructure and critical associated areas, including AI, application development and optimization, and workforce development and retention. Nations that do not invest enough in HPC infrastructure and workforce development run the very real risk of weakening their national defenses and falling behind economically.

As stated in the United States Constitution, the government is responsible for “providing for the common defense, [and] promote general well-being. To achieve these goals, agencies must take actions that help maintain the country’s military and economic strength.

4. HPC enables scientific and academic innovation.

Many Nobel Prize winners over the past decades have been recognized for their achievements based on HPC. The report also notes that “in academia, the use of HPC has spread from its established strongholds in the physical sciences to the social sciences and humanities.”

Government agencies and public universities that invest in HPC facilitate continued innovation across a wide range of disciplines.

5. Without adequate HPC investment, the United States runs the risk of falling behind other countries.

For more than 50 years, the United States has been the recognized leader in supercomputing. But now other countries are catching up and in some ways overtaking the United States.

The performance of the world’s fastest supercomputers is 70,000 times better today than it was just 20 years ago. If it is to continue to keep pace, the United States must continue to invest in this area, not only in the ruling-class machines that dominate the headlines, but also in the smaller divisional and departmental class systems that can handle the growing volume of analytics workloads.

For more information

Read the full article “Out-compute is to Out-competite: Competitive Threats and Opportunities Relative to US Government HPC Leadership.” Visit dell.com/fed and learn more about high performance computing at delltechnologies.com/hpc.

Ashley C. Reynolds