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Argonne Lab Taking Next Steps to Exascale Computing

InformationWeek (11/26/13) Patience Wait

Scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division working on the Argo project are creating a prototype exascale operating system and runtime software that would reach the exaflop mark.  Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and several universities are collaborating with the Argonne team on the project, which is funded through a $9.75-million Department of Energy Office of Science grant.  Computer chips are no longer making performance gains, says Argo program manager Pete Beckman.  “We’ve been turning up the clock every year, but we got to this point at about 3 gigahertz where it really hasn’t gotten any faster,” Beckman says.  “Instead, now companies are making them more parallel.”  Massive parallel processing requires both hardware and software changes, which Argo will address by developing an open source prototype operating system that can run on various architectures.  The researchers aim to have the first prototype systems by the end of the three-year project, but experts predict full-scale exaflop computing will not be feasible until 2018.  The researchers say additional computing power will enable breakthroughs in the most challenging scientific problems, such as understanding the workings of subatomic particles.

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