• May 2011
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A New Generation of Smarter, Not Faster, Supercomputers

 HPC Wire (05/19/11) Nicole Hemsoth

Exascale-level supercomputing offers much promise, but many barriers remain to taking advantage of the technology. Argonne National Lab’s Rick Stevens says that although the size of the programming challenges is intimidating, power also is a major concern. A billion-processor computer, relying on current technologies, would require more than 1 gigawatt of electricity. Another barrier to exascale computing systems is general reliability, in that it will be difficult to keep the systems running for more than a few minutes at a time, Stevens says. Since boosting the power will become increasingly difficult, the role of hyper-smart cluster management software will become more critical, says Altair Engineering’s Bill Nitzberg. Instead of focusing on making the next generation of supercomputers able to run on less power, there needs to be a focus on making better use of the power available, Nitzberg says. “When I think of making the future generation of computers smarter, the computer scientist in me thinks about optimization and the environmental side of me thinks about power,” he says.

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