[Beowulf] Is there really a need for Exascale?

Prentice Bisbal prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu
Thu Nov 29 07:10:30 PST 2012

On 11/28/2012 11:57 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
> On 11/28/12 8:18 AM, "Alan Louis Scheinine"<alscheinine at tuffmail.us>
> 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.
> But is that really true.   Sure, the processor in a cellphone is slower
> than say a typical modern PC CPU.. But, given appropriate software, is it
> a better $/FLOPS or W/FLOPS deal to get 100 cellphone CPUs or 1 superduper

In the case of the IBM Blue Gene, this already is true. The PowerPC 
processors used in the Blue Genes is based on a PowerPC processor for 
embedded applications, so you could argue that 'cell phone' processors 
are already being used for supercomputers.


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