Scott Fulton writes of the problems facing supercomputer architects today as they design the systems of the future:
“TACC announced last August that it will be replacing its old Lonestar with a new Lonestar that promises even faster data rates using a 40 gigabit per second (Gbps) InfiniBand fabric from Mellanox. And the InfiniBand Trade Association is promising theoretical throughput of 300 Gbps over 12 simultaneous channels by the end of this year. Yet that huge data rate comes at a cost that the creators of the Internet itself believe may be prohibitive. In its March 2010 report, DARPA pointed out that there have historically been three easy ways to improve the performance of a COTS-based supercomputer: You could increase the clock speed of the CPU, you could decrease the supply voltage to enable tighter component integration, and you could increase the number of transistors on the CPU. Those three dials have effectively been turned just about as far as they can go; you can’t increase clock speed further without overheating, and you can’t decrease voltage without introducing error rates. Maybe you can still pack more transistors, but only if materials innovations continue to enable further miniaturization without creating power leaks.
This is a great feature story with quotes from noted thought leaders in the HPC community. Read the Full Story.