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Obama Sets $126M for Next-Gen Supercomputing.

Computerworld (02/17/11) Patrick Thibodeau

President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal calls for $126 million for the development of next-generation exascale supercomputers, with about $91 million going to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science and $36 million going to the National Nuclear Security Administration. The funding is part of a general DOE advanced computing request of $465 million for 2012, which marks a 21 percent increase over the 2010 budget. Exascale systems will beat the power of the fastest current supercomputer by 1,000-fold, and the White House’s funding for such systems reflects its plan for a predictable future pathway for high-performance computing. The creation of an exascale system is expected by 2020, but that depends on the development of software systems that can use what may amount to 100 million cores. Meanwhile, DOE is constructing 10 petaflop systems. Modeling and simulation are the chief supercomputing applications, and with an increase in system size comes a gain in resolution. Faster networking and other technological milestones that must be achieved to build exascale systems may eventually migrate to business-class servers.

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Energy Aims to Retake Supercomputing Lead From China.

Government Computer News (02/11/11) Henry Kenyon

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory has commissioned the development of a supercomputer that will be capable of executing 10 petaflops. IBM will build the machine, which will be based on a version of the latest Blue Gene supercomputer architecture. The supercomputer will be operational in 2012, and its performance will be vastly superior to today’s most powerful supercomputer, China’s Tianhe-1A system, which has a peak performance of 2.67 petaflops. The system also will be the most energy-efficient computer in the world due to a combination of new microchip designs and very efficient water cooling. The supercomputer, which will be housed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, will be used to conduct a variety of modeling and simulation tests that current machines are unable to perform. By 2012, IBM also will be responsible for two other systems operating at 10 petaflops or higher–the 20 petaflop Sequoia for the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the 10 petaflop Blue Waters system for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The new class of supercomputers is expected to pave the way for the emergence of exascale computers–machines that are 1,000 times faster than petascale systems–by the end of the decade.

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UF Leads World in Reconfigurable Supercomputing.

University of Florida News (02/15/11) Ron Word

University of Florida researchers say the Novo-G is the world’s fastest reconfigurable supercomputer and that it is capable of executing some key science applications faster than the Chinese Tianhe-1A system, which was rated the world’s most powerful supercomputer in the Top500 list in November. Florida professor Alan George notes that the Top500 list scores systems based on their performance of a few basic routines in linear algebra using 64-bit, floating-point arithmetic. He says many important apps do not comply with that standard, and software apps for most computers must conform to fixed-logic hardware structures that can slow down computing speed and boost energy consumption. However, reconfigurable systems feature architecture that can adjust to match each app’s unique requirements, leading to higher speed and more energy efficiency due to adaptive hardware customization. Novo-G employs 192 reconfigurable processors and “can rival the speed of the world’s largest supercomputers at a tiny fraction of their cost, size, power, and cooling,” according to the researchers, who say it is particularly well suited for applications in genome research, cancer diagnosis, plant science, and large data set analysis.

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