Former NCSA science chief says no exascale future

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Scientific Computing reported recently on a talk given by Bob Wilhelmson, retired chief science officer of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and former applications lead for the Blue Waters project, at this year’s TeraGrid conference.

The talk was mostly an overview of the Blue Waters architecture and a look at some of the early applications expected on the machine.

But during his talk he presented a challenge that we couldn’t help noticing (and passing on):

“I’ll make a claim,” he told the TG’10 audience. “There will be no general purpose exascale machine ever built that anyone can afford to operate, much less buy.” Wilhelmson cited the very large amounts of funding that will be needed, along with the power requirements, as primary obstacles.