Is HPE About To Join the Supercomputing Greats?

$1.2B text with a green square around it

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2019

HPE has announced it is in final talks to buy supercomputing legend Cray, Inc. Cray has been at the forefront of ultra-high capacity computing for nearly forty years and is responsible for the design and manufacture of three of the top ten most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The news follows HPE’s Q1 results that showed 20% growth value of their high-performance computer products. With a renewed focus on high-end computing, the Cray acquisition makes sense for the OEM, and $1.2B represents remarkably good value.

Challenging at the top

By absorbing Cray’s experience, HPE would be able to compete in a very small field for some very high-value projects. IBM, Cray and Chinese firm Sunway TaihuLight are the clear frontrunners in the supercomputing arena, but Dell EMC has been fighting to break into the top tier. Naturally HPE wants to claim their piece of the action.

Cray is currently scheduled to complete delivery of ‘Frontier’ to the US Department of Energy in 2021. Running at 1.5 exaFlop, Frontier will be the world’s most powerful computer– and HPE will be able to claim at least some of the publicity for the project.

Benefits beyond the supercomputer

The technologies employed in supercomputer design are well beyond the budgets of even the largest enterprise organizations, but the cutting-edge solutions created during the design process will eventually filter down the supply chain.

In all reality we will see many Intel-Cray innovations appearing in the cloud sooner rather than later. If the deal completes. 

For industry watchers, a potential tie-up between HPE and Cray will keep things interesting in the supercomputer arena, and should ensure that IBM is forced to continue innovating to keep up.

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