[Beowulf] Multicore Is Bad News For Supercomputers

Franz Marini franz.marini at mi.infn.it
Sat Dec 6 06:13:15 PST 2008

On Sat, 2008-12-06 at 23:03 +1100, Chris Samuel wrote:
> I'm wondering though if we're starting to see a
> subtle shift in direction with more and more
> emphasis getting placed on accelerators (mainly
> GPGPU, but including Cell, FPGA's, etc) ?

Starting ? Am I the only one remembering accelerators boards (based on
FPGA, Transputers, Motorola 88k, Intel i960, various DSPs and other
processors) being produced and advertised in, e.g., Byte magazine back
in the 80s and early 90s ? 

The problems with those solutions have always been the extremely
proprietary nature of the products, and therefore the lack of libraries
and (community) support, and last but not least, cost.

Things are better now with, say, CUDA, mainly because of the huge
installed base and the low cost.

OpenCL may shape to be an interesting solution. Should someone develop
a, e.g., FPGA-based accelerator board, he would (only) need to support
OpenCL to overcome all, except maybe cost, the problems that plagued the
older solutions I mentioned before...

Interesting times ahead ;)


Franz Marini
Prof. R. A. Broglia Theoretical Physics of Nuclei,
      Atomic Clusters and Proteins Research Group
Dept. of Physics, University of Milan, Italy.
web   : http://merlino.mi.infn.it/proteins/
email : franz.marini at mi.infn.it
phone : +39 02 50317226

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