Why Supercomputers are Not Just Scientific Instruments Any More

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photoOver at his blog, Glenn Lockwood from SDSC writes that he completely disagrees with HPC pundit Andrew Jones on the notion that “supercomputers are not computers” but are instead scientific instruments.

What gets my knickers in a twist about the “NOT a computer” statement is that it moves the public perception of high-performance computing in the wrong direction by separating “us” (the HPC technologists, or “supercomputerists”) from “them” (the research community and the public at large). The reality is that HPC is evolving in the opposite direction–more and more problems that were traditionally outside the computationally intensive domain of supercomputing are now becoming tractable due to an increasing emphasis on improving non-floating-point performance (e.g., data access and throughput for analytics, integer performance for graph problems). At my workplace alone, we are giving supercomputer time to projects in non-traditional fields ranging from cinematic arts to mathematical anthropology to great effect.

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  1. Sharan Kalwani says

    Excellent debate! We need more discourse, which IMHO will benefit all!