Lenovo ThinkServer & ThinkStation Solutions For High-Performance Computing

In this edition of the Lenovo ThinkServer blog, we wanted to shed some light on how Lenovo servers and workstations are being deployed for the high-performance computing (HPC) industry. Joining me in this discussion is Vertical Marketing Manager, Chris McCoy, from the Lenovo ThinkStation team.

Edgar: Hi Chris, can you tell us a bit about your work experience and how you see Lenovo ThinkStation fitting into the key verticals you manage? Also, do you see synergies with Lenovo ThinkServer?

Chris: Hey Edgar, it’s a pleasure to be here with you. To answer the first part of your question, I joined the Lenovo ThinkStation product team about 18 months ago. Prior to coming to Lenovo, I spent more than 15 years working for global IT solution providers in both the private and public sectors.

Lenovo has made tremendous investments in ThinkStation product engineering and critical technology partner alliances to devise, test and implement various hardware and software technologies in an effort to improve workflow and system performance as well as platform efficiencies. We do this to ensure that we’re designing and building platforms that can be tuned and configured to support very specific workflows across a very wide spectrum of customers, in industries such as Banking, Finance, Manufacturing, Architecture, Medical and Life Sciences, Media and Entertainment and the Energy Sector.

To answer the second part of your question, in Lenovo, servers and workstations are built from the same Intel Xeon technology so there are many areas of overlap in terms of both compute and visualization workflows. It’s only natural for both groups to work together to drive innovation. As you know Edgar, our engineering and development teams often work together to test and qualify new technologies to ensure that workflows can be supported through the entire stack. Whether a customer needs an HPC environment or requires 3D visualization of complex volumes, Lenovo can provide a unified fabric to support the entire workflow.

Edgar: I recently saw the press release your team put out that spoke to a unique HPC solution for Oil & Gas consisting of the ThinkStation D30 workstations, NVIDIA’s Tesla K40 GPU accelerators and Magma GPU expansion technology to power Hue's visualization software for exploration and production application development. Would you shed some light on this solution and tell us why you’ve seen customers in Oil & Gas migrating to such as solution?

Chris: Yes, the solution is a new concept in an evolving and emerging field in exploration geophysics called Seismic Visualization. We’re very fortunate to have partners such as Hue, who are working to design application platforms and engines, such as HueSpace, that can take advantage of the latest parallel computation and CUDA technologies. The HueSpace platform was specifically designed to enable geophysicists to make real-time changes to massive seismic volumes, while providing a visual interpretation of the sub-surface. In order to process nearly 2TBs of seismic data in real-time, Hue needed a massive computational boost to their already robustly configured Lenovo D30 ThinkStation. Naturally, they turned to NVIDIA’s Tesla technology to provide the boost that they needed. The result is a very powerful tool, which enables geophysicists to make critical real-time decisions and interpretations, saving time and money. 

Perhaps the best part of this solution is that it is not restricted to just upstream Oil & Gas exploration workflows. We’re already seeing applications with on-set special effects and animation in the media and entertainment industries. The applications of a computation/visualization solution such as this are literally limitless.

Lenovo Workstations For Oil & Gas Applications

Chris: Edgar, how have you seen Lenovo ThinkServer being deployed into HPC environments?

Edgar:  We have been successful in the HPC workgroup segment and are seeing customers deploying our servers into a variety of HPC verticals from healthcare to education to electronic data analytics to biosciences. Many of our customers are using Hadoop or Lustre clusters to extract value out of their Big Data repositories. We’re successful in this space because our customers are looking for economic solutions that meet their computing needs, with a level of customer service and quality that often does not get filtered down to the workgroup customer segment.

Chris: Do you see scenarios where a customer would find value in deploying a complete server and workstation solution from Lenovo?

Edgar: Yes I do. I think when you consider a standard data flow model of data ingestion, data consolidation, data visualization and data retention (DR), there are areas where both products can be deployed to create a viable solution, while reducing complexity and vendor count, and ensuring a single-vendor handshake across the back and front end of their data model. Oil & Gas is a good example of a vertical where customers can utilize Lenovo ThinkServer for the Hadoop portion of their data flow, and implement Lenovo ThinkStation for the visualization portion. Specifically in the Oil & Gas vertical, much of the unstructured data in the ingestion phase comes from SCADA reports, production actuals, refinery output, truck logs, pump transactions, drilling reports, seismology reports, etc. This data is then run through a Hadoop cluster to filter out meaningful or “hot” data from “cool” or “cold” data that will be transitioned to long-term data retention. This portion of the data model is ideal for Lenovo servers. In fact, we have seen many customers deploying our systems for this exact purpose in other verticals.

I see the ThinkStation portion of the model in the visualization segment. Once the cold data is filtered out, the hot data is then migrated to a geologist or data scientist for deep analytics or visualization of data sets for internal or external consumption. As you mentioned above, much of this work is done locally on a workstation, and with your team’s partnerships with the key ISVs in this segment, I see a lot of synergy between the two groups for joint HPC solutions.

Data Flow Model

We hope you have found this blog insightful and that you will consider Lenovo ThinkServer and ThinkStation for your HPC installations. For more information on Lenovo servers, contact me at eharen@lenovo.com. For more information on Lenovo workstations contact Chris at cmccoy@lenovo.com.