Precipitation plot from the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project showing data from 1900 when a ferocious hurricane hit the Galveston, TX, area. One of the first HPC Innovation Excellence Award Winners, NERSC’s international study enabled a much more detailed and longer record of past weather to improve climate studies.IDC’s Innovation Excellence Award Program continues to showcase benefits of investment in high performance computing

IDC initiated the HPC Innovation Excellence Award program in 2011 to recognize innovative achievements using high performance computing (HPC). While there are multiple benchmarks to measure the performance of technical computers, there have been few formats available to evaluate the economic and scientific value HPC systems contribute. The HPC Innovation Excellence Award Program is designed to help close that gap. The award program provides an important means for gathering more quantified return on investment (ROI) and innovation success stories.

Through identifying clear ROI and innovation examples, the award program has further demonstrated the close link between HPC and economic/scientific innovation and competitiveness. Through increased awareness of the quantified impact of HPC technologies and capabilities, regional, national and international funding agencies can better measure the socio-economic impact of HPC and ever-urgent necessity of funding innovative methodologies for sustained growth. The award program also highlights the critical role of investments in software, services and infrastructure in compute-intensive and data-intensive HPC.

Dual-flow exhaust nozzle simulation: vorticity contours plotted on constant Q criterion surfaces. By leveraging advancements in available computational power, GE Global Research was able to model the unsteady flow physics in a turbine test rig. By comparing results of the new unsteady calculations with previously obtained steady calculations, new insights not captured with steady CFD were obtained, such as better understanding of wake dynamics. Showcasing Success
Over the last three years, the HPC Innovation Excellence Award Program has showcased success stories involving HPC utilization across universities, research laboratories and industry. Past winners of the HPC Innovation Excellence Award include a broad spectrum of end users and technology developers across multiple verticals throughout the world. The U.S. Department of Defense HPC Modernization program, Beijing Genomics Institute and GE Research, among others, have won multiple awards each for their innovative application of high performance computing in mission-critical scenarios. Several national laboratories and supercomputing centers, including National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Ohio Supercomputing Center (OSC), the Shanghai Supercomputing Center, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing (CAC), Princeton University and others have won recognition for their efforts in broadening the impact of HPC technologies.

Winners of the HPC Innovation Excellence Awards announced in 2011, 2012 and 2013 included 38 organizations from the U.S., four from the UK, three each from Italy and the People’s Republic of China, two from India, and one each from Australia, Canada, Spain, Korea, Switzerland, France, Germany and Sweden. All of the simulations demonstrated one or more of these criteria:

  • economic impact
  • acceleration of key industrial and
  • simulation processes
  • scientific advancement

A smoke test under way in the NASA Ames wind tunnel. LLNL’s Heavy Vehicle Aerodynamic Drag Project used modeling and simulation to find practical ways to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve the fuel efficiency of the tractor trailers ubiquitous on America’s highways.Quantifying ROI
IDC worked with several application candidates to develop ROI and innovation narratives based on econometrics and market impact. These success stories are crucial to increasing awareness of the benefits of adopting HPC and justifying HPC investments across the user community, including emerging small and medium enterprises (SMEs)/small and medium businesses (SMBs).

As active members of the broader high performance computing community, we are all intimately aware of the important contributions made by the use of HPC. We know that many aspects of our day-to-day activities, like weather forecasts, financial transactions, detergents, container designs, automotive engineering, aerospace innovations and others are driven by high performance computing. However, finding a large number of quantified examples of ROI and innovation from HPC has been really difficult, as most users don’t track their ROI from HPC or technical computing. Some lack the necessary econometric context to develop a broader ROI evaluation, while others utilize diverse and non-standard methodologies to track the effectiveness of HPC.

The Innovation Excellence Award Program was designed to identify a larger number of quantifiable success stories and to help successful users to quantify their achievements as needed. In some cases, the ROI quantifications are easy to develop, as the benefits of HPC to the broader socio-economic narrative are easy to quantify. However, in a vast majority of cases, IDC works with the award candidates to determine the economic impact of the technologies developed. IDC utilizes research data that we have gathered over several decades to develop a comprehensive quantification of the econometrics involved.

Procter & Gamble researchers and collaborators at Temple University’s Institute for Computational and Molecular Science developed models at the molecular and mesoscale level to understand complex molecular interactions of full-formula consumer products, such as shampoos and laundry detergents. The HPC-driven research helped shed light on the performance of complex formula interactions versus inferring performance based on isolated calculations. Results led to better understanding of interfacial phenomena, phase behavior and the performance of several products.Application Process
Candidates seeking to participate in the award program may submit their applications in one of two ways:

  • e-mailing a completed submission form to
  • completing the brief award submission form online at:

Once the award submissions are received, IDC works with the end-users to ensure completeness of the submissions. Next, the HPC User Forum steering committee evaluates each submission and assigns an initial ranking. Domain experts are called upon, as required, to assess the submissions.

The award winners are announced around the two major supercomputing conferences: International Supercomputing Conference (June) and the Supercomputing Conference (November), with the most recent winners being announced on June 24, 2014, at ISC’14 in Leipzig.

The deadline for the upcoming round of submissions for the HPC Innovation Excellence Award is October 1, 2014, and applicants can submit ROI examples from today or dating back as far as 10 years. IDC’s HPC team is available to answer questions, including how to quantify achievements, and can be contacted at:

Now in its fourth year, the HPC Innovation Excellence Award program continues to provide an important means for collecting a large set of quantified ROI success stories across many industries and application areas. The growing portfolio of winners who have achieved clear success in applying HPC to greatly improve business ROI, scientific advancement, and/or engineering successes is helping to strengthen the case for boosting investments in and funding for HPC. Many of the achievements also directly benefit society.

Chirag Dekate is Research Manager, HPC at IDC. He may be reached at