Showing posts with label blue waters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blue waters. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A review of 2012 in supercomputing - Part 2

This is Part 2 of my review of the year 2012 in supercomputing and related matters.

In Part 1 of the review I re-visited the predictions I made at the start of 2012 and considered how they became real or not over the course of the year. This included cloud computing, Big Data (mandatory capitalization!), GPU, MIC, and ARM - and software innovation. You can find Part 1 here:

Part 2 of the review looks at the themes and events that emerged during the year. As in Part 1, this is all thoroughly biased, of course, towards things that interested me throughout the year.

The themes that stick out in my mind from HPC/supercomputing in 2012 are:
  • The exascale race stalls
  • Petaflops become "ordinary"
  • HPC seeks to engage a broader user community
  • Assault on the Top500

The exascale race stalls

The global race towards exascale supercomputing has been a feature of the last few years. I chipped in myself at the start of 2012 with a debate on the "co-design" mantra.

Confidently tracking the Top500 trend lines, the HPC community had pinned 2018 as the inevitable arrival date of the first supercomputer with a peak performance in excess of 1 exaflops. [Note the limiting definition of the target - loosely coupled computing complexes with aggregate capacity greater than exascale will probably turn up before the HPC machines - and peak performance in FLOPS is the metric here - not application performance or any assumptions of balanced systems.]

Some more cautious folk hedged a delay into their arrival dates and talked about 2020. However, it became apparent throughout 2012 that the US government did not have the appetite (or political support) to commit to being the first to deploy an exascale supercomputer. Other regions of the world have - like the USA government - stated their ambitions to be among the leaders in exascale computing. But no government has yet stood up and committed to a timetable nor to being the first to get there. Critically, neither has anyone committed the required R&D funding needed now to develop the technologies [hardware and software] that will make exascale supercomputing viable.

The consensus at the end of 2012 seems to be towards a date of 2022 for the first exascale supercomputer - and there is no real consensus on which country will win the race to have the first exascale computer.

Perhaps we need to re-visit our communication of the benefits of more powerful supercomputers to the wider economy and society (what is the point of supercomputers?). Communicating the value to society and describing the long term investment requirements is always a fundamental need of any specialist technology but it becomes crucially essential during the testing fiscal conditions (and thus political pressures) that governments face right now.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Supercomputers are for dreams

I was invited to the 2012 NCSA Annual Private Sector Program (PSP) meeting in May. In my few years of attending, this has always been a great meeting (attendance by invitation only), with an unusually high concentration of real HPC users and managers from industry.

NCSA have recently released streaming video recordings of the main sessions - the videos can be found  as links on the Annual PSP Meeting agenda page.

Bill Gropp chaired a panel session on "Modern Software Implementation" with myself and Gerry Labedz as panellists.

The full video (~1 hour) is here but I have also prepared a breakdown of the panel discussion in this blog post below.

Friday, 4 November 2011

My SC11 diary 10

It seems I have been blogging about SC11 for a long time - but it has only been two weeks since the first SC11 diary post, and this is only the 10th SC11 diary entry. However, this will also be the final SC11 diary blog post.

I will write again before SC11 in HPC Wire (to be published around or just before the start of SC11).

And, then maybe a SC11 related blog post after SC11 has all finished.

So, what thoughts for the final pre-SC11 diary then? I'm sure you have noticed that the pre-show press coverage has started in volume now. Perhaps my preview of the SC11 battleground, what to look out for, what might emerge, ...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Summer season big changes - football or supercomputing?

The world of supercomputing has gone mad.

So it seems as I catch up on the news around the HPC community after a week's vacation. Just today the news of IBM walking away from half a decade's work on Blue Waters and the story of an unknown organisation [now revealed to be NVidia] tempting Steve Scott to leave his Cray CTO role have been huge news but thinking back over the summer months there has been more.

The immediate comparison to me is that of the European football summer season (soccer for my American readers). Key players are signed by new clubs, managers leave for pastures new (or are pushed), and ownership takeover bids succeed or fail. It feeds a few months of media speculation, social gossip, with occasional breaking news (i.e. actual facts) and several major moves (mostly big surprises, but some pre-hyped for long before). But clubs emerge from the summer with new teams, new ambitions, and new odds of achieving success.

The world of HPC has such a summer I think.