Crisis in HPC: Will America be Left Behind?

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Andy Keane, General Manager, Tesla HPC, Nvidia

Andy Keane, General Manager, Tesla HPC, Nvidia

In a rousing editorial, Nvidia’s Andy Keane cites China’s recent advancements in the TOP500 as evidence that United State’s technology leadership, and hence our standard of living, are at risk.

To sustain and extend our lead in High Performance Computing, we don’t have to revive the decades-old debate about industrial policy and the government picking winners through massive bets on industry sectors. We just need to spend smarter to get cost-effective hybrid HPC on the national agenda, and equip our best minds with the computing capacity they need to innovate and create jobs.

Keane contends that the CPU-based technology that once put America in the lead is now the anchor holding us back. It doesn’t scale cost-effectively and power-efficiently enough. Seeing this trend, China, Japan, France, are jumping into the next-generation of hybrid HPC that delivers what he calls the “same capabilities at a fraction of the cost.”

Editor’s note: For a more in-depth discussion on GPU efficiency, check out my video interview with Andy from ISC10.

While architectural debates aren’t my thing, I agree with Andy on this one; the Senate should get behind Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and his amendment to the reauthorization of the America Competes Act. If we as an HPC community, or as a country for that matter, aren’t agile enough to adapt, we could find ourselves being trounced by our own inventions.


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  1. This echos what I read in The Exascale Report – the ‘not so subtle’ hints that China has become very aggressive with exascale R&D efforts – even surpassing what we are seeing in Europe.

  2. gp-gpu is the future of HPC scaling? rather self-serving, and incredibly dubious. scaling HPL to any score you want is just a matter of money. and that has very little to do with the performance of real apps (grand challenge or not).