[Beowulf] Is there really a need for Exascale?

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Wed Nov 28 08:54:28 PST 2012

On Nov 28, 2012, at 5:18 PM, Alan Louis Scheinine wrote:

> Prentice writes:
>> An even more cynical view say that the HPC vendors lobby the  
>> government
>> to believe exascale is important so the government invests in it and
>> subsidizes their R&D.
> Whether a few big exaflops computer or many teraflop computers,
> the computational needs exceed what is now available, yet more
> computational capability runs into the problem of extreme scale
> electrical power usage.  Every aspect of computers and interconnects
> needs drastic reductions in power usage, so government subsidies
> would be useful.  Calling this "an even more cynical view" seems
> a little harsh.
> Commodity mother boards are similar or equal to supercomputer
> hardware.  But I wonder what will drive further improvements in
> reducing power usage by several orders of magnitude.  I've heard
> the suggestion that computers in cell phones will be the mass
> market that leads to low-power hardware suitable for supercomputers.
> But the cell phone components do not cover the same range as
> supercomputer components.
> What do others in the mailing list see as the trend?  Does the
> development of mass-market consumer products suffice for meeting
> the needs of the HPC community during this decade and the next?

To answer your last question. It's obvious that cell phones have gone  
to the left and that HPC has gone to the right.
Both are following different paths now.

In fact there is a big split within the HPC world as well.

The split in those who need vectorized floating point crunching power  
and those who use non-vectorized codes.
Of course those who use non vectorized codes are closer to those cell  
phone users, as theoretically they would
be happy with a big board with 512 ARM quadcore cpu's on it.

Yet the vectorized big crunching guys who do mainly matrix  
calculations on them, they are living in a total different world now  
and definitely do not use normal PC components.

The design of those vectorized manycores also is very specifically  
only for that market. In itself the HPC market has grown a lot.
More and more companies and sciences can USE crunching power. They  
have become professional in product design.

Things get engineered in an industrial manner. There is no cheap wins  
- so doing calculations on how to do things better - that's
nowadays more an accepted standard than some years ago.

Governments do not own majority of the HPC crunching power. That's  
probably also new in todays world.

> Respectfully,
> Alan
> -- 
>   Alan Scheinine
>   200 Georgann Dr., Apt. E6
>   Vicksburg, MS  39180
>   Email: alscheinine at tuffmail.us
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