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This Supercomputer Is Rethinking the Future of Software

Tech Republic (04/18/12) Nick Heath

The International Center of Excellence for Computational Science and Engineering’s Daresbury lab recently installed an IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer in order to help re-engineer software to run on future computers with millions of cores.  Daresbury lab director Adrian Wander says that most existing software will not run on future machines with millions of cores because of the different hardware architecture.  “There’s a whole bunch of technical issues around the application software that we need to address now if we are going to have applications that will run on these systems in five years’ time,” Wander notes.  He says the rapid increase in the number of cores means that the conventional x86 computer architecture is not an option for supercomputers of the future.  “Today, the Blue Gene/Q has 16 GB of memory per core, if we are going to 1 GB or 0.5 GB per core [in future machines] we’re going to have to do a major redesign of the code,” Wander says.  Future central processing units also will include additional circuitry to aid processing and new software to take advantage of the more diverse range of processing units.  Wander notes the additional cores also will give business access to much more processing power.

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