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How Supercomputing Can Survive Beyond Moore’s Law

IEEE Spectrum (12/02/15) Jeremy Hsu

A 10-exaflop or higher supercomputer will demand major changes in computing technologies and architectures, and Sandia National Laboratories’ Erik DeBenedictis has collaborated with the IEEE Rebooting Computing initiative and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors to help realize this vision. In an interview, DeBenedictis emphasizes the need for supercomputing to be extended beyond Moore’s Law. “The pressures are going to be greater on supercomputing because they have driven up the usage and requirements for the logic portion–like floating-point logic–really high over the years,” he says. “There’s little slack and little room for improvement until they hit the physical limits.” DeBenedictis says software developers must plan out products with much longer lifespans, as software tends to greatly outlast hardware. “If you can project what a supercomputer is going to look like in the second half of its lifespan for a piece of software, why not write that software for the computer it’s going to run on for most of its lifespan, because we can predict it?” he says. DeBenedictis also sees a lack of communication between hardware and software developers. “Nobody is really thinking about how to code for the next generation of [multicore] processors,” he notes.

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