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Grand Challenges Déjà Vu

The 2012 appeal to address the world’s ‘Grand Challenges’ is eerily similar to what we addressed 20 years ago.

Will the DOE and DOD be DOA at SC13?

The technical presentations and demonstrations depicting the work and accomplishments of the DOD and DOE researchers, typically seen at the SC conferences, were sorely missed at SC12. What can we expect for SC13?

Will the DOE and DOD be DOA at SC13?

In a recent random poll, (OK, it was in December, 2012) one of the questions we asked was:

Revolutionary Thinking; Evolutionary Technology

Intel is betting on fabric integration to enable exaFLOPS

We already know exascale-class systems will be far too expensive to make them commercially available. And we’ve heard several years of discussion on the staggering power requirements an exaFLOPS system would require. So, is anyone doing anything creative to get past these barriers?

With a clever brand most of us marketing types can really appreciate, Intel’s True Scale Fabric represents an architectural change that can potentially benefit Cloud Computing, Big Data, HPC, and establish a path toward exascale.

MORE Truths About Exascale

“For the U.S. to be unsure about exascale / extreme scale indicates a lack of the basic understanding that pushing the extreme end will reap tremendous benefits all along the way – or a disregard for the importance of advancing scientific discovery with some sense of urgency.”

The Truth(s) About Exascale

As I reflect on 2012, and most recently, on several very interesting and colorful conversations from SC12, I am feeling encouraged that we have indeed made key progress in our journey toward a new and exciting world – one where science is driven forward by extreme levels of computation.

I believe 2013 will be a pivotal year for extreme scale research; it will solidly move us closer to realizing much needed scientific discovery made possible by unprecedented levels of computation, for which the next milestone is, of course, the exascale level.

Learning is a journey and progress can be measured in many different ways – and in this case, I believe realization is progress.

The Uber-Cloud Experiment: An Exascale Report Special Feature


Optimising High Performance Computing applications is all about understanding both the application and the target platform. Application developers, or those that port an application to a new supercomputer architecture, worry about memory bandwidth, data placement, cache behaviour and the floating point performance of the target platform in order to deliver the very best performance. Cloud Computing, on the other hand, is all about virtualisation, which hides details of the target architecture from the application. Cloud offers both technical and business model flexibility, which is good – but perhaps not for HPC applications. How does the Uber-Cloud project square this circle? I spoke with Wolfgang Gentzsch to try to answer this – and many more – questions.

Wolfgang Gentzsch

2013: Time to stop talking about Exascale

A letter to the emerging exascale community

By: Bill Gropp, General Chair, SC13

Everyone reading this is a believer in the power of computing. We take for granted that the computing power of the highest performing systems needs to continue to grow at the same rate in order to meet the needs of society. Yet this is not obvious to others.

2013: Shaping Up To Be a Pivotal Year

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.

Development tools heading for the Exascale future

Allinea Software is one company leading the charge for development tools at scale.

European Strategy for HPC and Exascale

In February 2012 the European Commission (EC) published a Communication highlighting the strategic nature of High Performance Computing (HPC) as a crucial asset for the European Union’s (EU’s) innovation capacity, proposing a series of activities that could lead to European leadership in both the supply and the use of HPC systems and services by 2020.

The Communication views HPC as an important tool in addressing societal and scientific grand challenges, and in helping industry to be more innovative and competitive. It notes that while Europe buys 32% of the world’s HPC systems, it only provides 4.3% of these systems. European HPC capacity decreased by 10% from 2008 to 2010, while the US and Japan each have more HPC capacity than all European countries combined, and both China and Russia have declared HPC an area of strategic priority funded by significant investment. The EU has significant strengths in the areas of scientific and engineering software, as well as parallel software development.

In 1975 Europe set up the European Space Agency as it saw independent access to space as being a strategic goal for Europe. The Commission advocates a similar strategic decision for HPC systems and services.