Showing posts with label petaflops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label petaflops. 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, 25 May 2012

Looking ahead to ISC'12

I have posted my preview of ISC'12 Hamburg - the summer's big international conference for the world of supercomputing over on the NAG blog. I will be attending ISC'12, along with several of my NAG colleagues. My blog post discusses these five key topics:
  • GPU vs MIC vs Other
  • What is happening with Exascale?
  • Top 500, Top 10,
  • Tens of PetaFLOPS
  • Finding the advantage in software
  • Big Data and HPC 
Read more on the NAG blog ...

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Comparing HPC across China, USA and Europe

[Originally posted on The NAG Blog]

In my earlier blog post today on China announcing the world's faster supercomputer, I said I'd be back with more later on the comparisons with the USA, Europe and others. In this morning's blog, I made the point that the world's fastest supercomputer, in itself, is not world changing. But leading supercomputers, critically matched with appropriate expertise in programming and using them, togther with the vision to ensure use across basic research, industry and defence applications can indeed be strategically beneficial to a nation - including real economic impact.

There are plenty of reports and studies describing the strategic impact of HPC within a given organisation or at national levels (some are catalogued by IDC here), so let's take it as a premise for the following thoughts.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Why does the China supercomputer matter to western governments?

[Originally posted on The NAG Blog]

There is a lot of fuss in the mainstream media (BBC, FT, CNET, even the Daily Mail!) the last few days about the world's fastest supercomputer being in China for the first time. And much ado on Twitter (me too - @hpcnotes).

But much of the mainstream reporting, twitter-fest, and blogging is missing the point I think. China deploying the world's fastest supercomputer is news (the fastest supercomputer has almost always been American for decades, with the occasional Japanese crown). But the machine alone is not the big news.