Feeds

US funds exascale computing journey

While Torvalds and Patterson get hot

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Thanks to $7.4m in government funding a pair of national labs hope to throw their big brains at the most pressing problems facing supercomputer designers.

Sandia and Oak Ridge national laboratories this week touted their new Institute for Advanced Architectures (IAA), which will explore what it takes to create "Exascale" machines. The researchers will tackle issues such as power, many-core processors, multi-threaded code and communications between the components in the largest of supercomputers. Breakthroughs in any or all of these areas should benefit the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which will support the work.

Just this week, the Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) did some ribbon cutting on a supercomputer said to mark a "new era for petascale science." That claim to fame comes from the "Ranger" machine's ability to hit 504 teraflops - or half a petaflop - of peak performance. Exascale computers would take things once again to the next level with an exaflop coming in 1,000 times faster than a petalop. So, exaflop computers could crank through a million trillion calculations per second.

The IAA will concentrate on closing the gap between peak and sustained performance for exascale supercomputers. Part of that mission will revolve around making sure that all processors in a supercomputer stay active working on problems. And that's a particularly hairy issue when you consider that today's top supercomputers run on tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of cores - figures that will increase in coming years due to the rise of multi-core processors.

"In an exascale computer, data might be tens of thousands of processors away from the processor that wants it,” says Sandia computer architect Doug Doerfler. "But until that processor gets its data, it has nothing useful to do. One key to scalability is to make sure all processors have something to work on at all times."

Keeping processors busy will require novel parallel programming techniques along with improved internal communications systems.

"In order to continue to make progress in running scientific applications at these [very large] scales,” says Jeff Nichols, who heads the Oak Ridge branch of the institute, “we need to address our ability to maintain the balance between the hardware and the software. There are huge software and programming challenges and our goal is to do the critical R&D to close some of the gaps.”

The labs will also tackle the nagging issue of power consumption for large machines. Similar work is also taking place at IBM, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and a variety of other research institutes.

Famed Berkeley researcher Dave Patterson - he of RISC and RAID fame - is also spearheading research into novel programming techniques that could benefit supercomputer class machines as well as more standard boxes running on multi-core chips. Patterson's Parallel Computing lab recently took in $10m from Microsoft and Intel.

Berkeley's win caught the eye of Linux kernel writer Linus Torvalds who started complaining about the parallel computing research on a message board. Patterson fought back, although mustering any rebuttal seemed a rather hopeless task since Torvalds failed to grasp the concepts of research and effort. If you want to hear more about Patterson's vision of the future, we have the show for you. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Microsoft's Nadella: SQL Server 2014 means we're all about data
Adds new big data tools in quest for 'ambient intelligence'
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.