As a subscription-only publication, The Exascale Report doesn’t often release their content to the general public. In a rare move this week, the editors have published a recent interview with Thomas Sterling “that’s too important not to share.”
The past year, 2011, has been a critical year for Exascale computing in that it has been both a disappointment in this regard and at the same time has created an emergent context in which responsible revolution for essential innovation may occur. In a sense the Exascale community, if that can be considered a meaningful term, has grown up. The disappointment has come from DARPA; the agency historically noted for leading HPC system research and development. This strategic commitment had wavered but was seen in resurgence with important funded studies and the initiation of the UHPC and OHPC programs. While UHPC was not formally an Exascale program, it would have developed the necessary hardware and software technologies necessary and capable of supporting large, but not prohibitively large, Exascale computational systems. OHPC was an explicitly Exascale technologies-related program that would have augmented the principal UHPC projects (there are 4). OHPC was cancelled shortly after the awards were made and there appears little likelihood that UHPC will extend beyond its first phase although it was originally planned for four such phases to produce final proof-of-concept experimental platforms. In truth, much has been learned even from this single 2-year phase but it is disappointing that the leadership momentum capturing talents of industry, national laboratories, and academia is being dissipated and will be lost.
Sterling goes on to say that 2012 represents a fork for Exascale. He contends that if the the US and the world derive the courage to take a path of innovation, we can get where we want to go.