Power Consumption is the Exascale Gorilla in the Room

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Will Exascale computing be possible within eight years? Chris Edwards over at IET writes that while the core technology for performance growth is on track, the cost to run Exascale systems will make them impractical.

IMEC’s Wilfried Verachtert says the power demand for an exascale computer made using today’s technology would keep 14 nuclear reactors running. “There are a few very hard problems we have to face in building an exascale computer. Energy is number one. Right now we need 7,000MW for exascale performance. We want to get that down to 50MW, and that is still higher than we want.”

Edwards goes on to describe the other challenges for Exascale systems such as software complexity and diminishing performance returns as you add cores and threads. It’s a familiar song, and it seems that the people in the know are really daunted by the Exascale challenge. And as Cray’s Steve Scott told me back in June, the next computing milestone is going to be a lot harder.