As we bring 2012 to a close, and celebrate the winter solstice and other events of perceived personal importance, it is incumbent upon us to pause and consider progress towards selected goals and lessons acquired through the processes of their pursuit.
For those of us committed to the advancement of high performance computing, the realization of Exaflops capability is one such selected goal; the means of achievement of which is uncertain and a source of contention among experts.
This past year has seen significant progress towards the discovery of those means in the US through the initiative of the DOE in their on-going Co-design Program and their new X-stack Program, providing a framework for investigation in application and system development towards practical exploitation of usable exaflops computing systems. The terms “practical” and “usable” are key to the long-term goal. There is little doubt that a collection of a few hundred million ALUs can be integrated to form a machine with a raw peak performance of a quintillion floating-point operations per second before the end of this decade. Making it work for some highly visible self-selected applications of suitable regular and static properties is also likely, even using conventional practices that are anticipated to be extended in to that time frame.