DOE Research Group Makes Case for Exascale.

HPC Wire (02/21/11) Tiffany Trader

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research recently published an article stating that although exascale computing has the potential to lead to scientific breakthroughs, the technology will not be easy or inexpensive to develop. Exascale computing could lead to precise long-range weather forecasting, new alternative fuels, and advances in disease research, according to the DOE paper. However, creating an exascale system faces many obstacles, says Argonne National Laboratory’s Rick Stevens. An exascale system will require billions of cores, so there needs to be an effective model that can take advantage of all of them, in what will likely be an extreme parallel system. An exascale system also would require more than a gigawatt of electricity, which could only come from its own power plant. Stevens says researchers are looking to graphics processing units as a way to minimize energy requirements. He also notes that computer reliability issues will be magnified a thousandfold in an exascale system. All of these issues will require government funding to solve, so “complex and coordinated [research and development] efforts [are required] to bring down the cost of memory, networking, disks, and all of the other essential components of an exascale system,” Stevens says.

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