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Interview: Matsuoka and Sterling on the Road to Exascale

A new interview in Primeur Magazine looks at what’s going on with Exascale these days with Satoshi Matsuoka and Thomas Sterling:

Thomas Sterling: Since we last met, DARPA started the UHPC programme – Ubiquitous High Performance Computing programme, and inaugurated four full different teams. The teams were the Excalibur team, led by Sandia National Laboratories. A team led by Intel, the Echelon team led by NVIDIA and closely cooperating with Cray, and a fourth team, led by MIT. And I might add that I am involved in the Excalibur team. But two teams – the Excalibur and Intel lead teams – are already directly collaborating on the execution model question. DARPA also began, but then quickly terminated the OHPC programme. Caveat: UHPC is not explicitly Exascale. It is very careful not to be Exascale. But it is intended to develop technologies that are suitable for Exascale, with one Petaflop/s sustained performance in a rack. In addition Satoshi also mentioned the EESI in Europe and the Department of Energy in the US has also launched a couple of initiatives, including the X-Stack project to develop Exascale software that will be the second release of that. So a great deal has happened; including a substance of work in the last year.

Satoshi Matsuoka: Let me supplement that. The DOE has the co-design centre. Europe, in addition to EESI, has the Exascale call. It is in the final negotiation state. Three groups that have been awarded to develop mid tier technologies leading up to Exascale. the goal is to have something that is substantive in the 2014 timeframe. In Japan there is a software development project for 100 Petaflop/s and beyond, called post-Petascale. Now we have five groups working and we will accept several more. In addition to the Committee that is looking at exploiting the current K system. Not K as a machine, but K as a centerpiece of the high performance computing infrastructure in which five key application areas are explicitly involved . These are five representative labs and all of these labs are now being asked to come up with Exascale. What science breakthroughs they can achieve if they have Exascale machines. So all this is similar to DOE in the US and to Europe. In China, although details are not known yet, they are expecting to be forthcoming with their 100 PetaFlop/s and Exascale plans. The details are not out yet, but they are certainly considering Exascale.

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