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Top Scientist ­rges 'ambitious' ­.s. Exascale Supercomputer Plan

By Computerworld

November 24, 2010

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Peter Beckman, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Exascale Technology and Computing Institute, says the United States needs to make a sizable push to open up funding resources if the country is to have a chance of winning the race to build an exascale supercomputing system. An exascale computing platform's development costs are estimated in the billions of dollars, and Japan, China, and Europe are all engaged in the creation of such platforms. Beckman says an exascale system is necessary to meet high-performance computing challenges inherent in such projects as the tackling of basic science questions, designing more fuel-efficient automobiles, and creating new drugs.

"In the exascale thrust, the DOE has said we're going to launch a series of co-design centers which will cover several applications areas, fusion, materials, chemistry, climate, etc., and those communities will then have a voice in speaking with the companies designing the platforms," Beckman says.

Meanwhile, the International Exascale Software Project aims to bring together representatives from Europe, the United States, and Asia to concentrate on the software side of exascale computing. Beckman stresses that application codes must undergo a radical improvement if they are to exploit exponential growth in parallelism.

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