A major focus at the SC11 supercomputing conference was plans to develop an exascale computing system, which would be about 1,000 times more powerful than any existing system. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which will fund the development of exascale systems, wants a functional exascale computer by 2020 that will not use more than 20 megawatts (MW) of power. "We're in a power-constrained world now," says Nvidia's Steve Scott, who believes the DOE's 20 MW goal can be achieved by 2022. "The performance we can get on a chip is constrained not by the number of transistors we can put on a chip, but rather by the power."
To reach the required level of power efficiency to develop an exascale system that runs on 20 MW, power usage technology will have to be improved by a factor of 50, according to Scott. Intel plans to meet the 20 MW exascale goal by 2018, says Intel's Rajeeb Hazra.
However, before reaching the exascale level, vendors will produce systems that can scale into the hundreds of petaflops, such as IBM's Blue Gene/Q system, which is capable of 100 petaflops.
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