Bill Gropp from the University of Illinois looks at the recent PCAST report, which calls for “substantial and sustained” investment in a broad range of basic research for HPC. As part of the team that authored the report, Gropp calls on the community to embrace the idea that we need to rethink every aspect of high performance computing:
The list of topics, all areas in which too little is known and in which there is currently too little research, is quite sobering. Breakthroughs in only a few of these would transform computing. The NSF, DARPA, and DOE are taking the first steps to address these, but they need to be able to do more. And the community, in particular the HPC community, needs to be willing to take more risks. The past two decades have seen significant stability in HPC; even with a factor of 10,000 or more increase in scale, the programming models and many of the algorithms have only slowly changed. This is the time to rethink all aspects of computing—the hardware, the software, and the algorithms. Without a sustained investment in basic research into HPC, the historic increase in performance of HPC systems will slow down and eventually end. With such an investment, HPC will continue to provide scientists and engineers with the ability to solve the myriad of challenges that we face.