(j3.2006) illusive exaflops

Bill Long longb
Wed Feb 23 16:53:14 EST 2011

On 2/22/11 6:59 PM, Van Snyder wrote:
> On Mon, 2011-02-21 at 14:47 -0800, Jerry Wagener wrote:
>> In the 80's for instance, for most of the decade we tracked the
>> fastest computers in megaflops, and it was big news when the first
>> gigaflops computer appeared. As I recall in the late 90's we were
>> anticipating the amazing advent of the first teraflops computer. And
>> now, according to the article, the fastest computer is about 5
>> petaflops. So for the past 3 decades we've roughly, on-average,
>> doubled the top computing speed each year (10**6 to 10**15). That's
>> even faster than Moore's Law. Amazing.
>> But, alas, the article points out that some tough physical limits are
>> raising their ugly heads which look like this era may be coming to an
>> end, and with it DARPA's hopes for an exaflops computer by 2015 may
>> not be realized. Though I'm reminded of the saying that somebody
>> saying something's impossible is usually interrupted by somebody doing
>> it. Anyway, for an old out-of-touch Fortran geezer it was an
>> interesting read.
> At JPL last year, there was a talk by an IBM fellow from the University
> of Kansas (whose name I have forgotten).  He had a contract from DARPA
> to address the question of power consumption.  He looked at computing
> from the gate level, asking how many joules are required per operation.
> DARPA wants their exaflop computer to use less than 38 MW.  The result
> of the study is that with current technology or that foreseen for the
> reasonably near future, it can't be done for less than 60 MW.

Not surprising that large computer facilities are increasingly being 
located near power plants. Oak Ridge has started hosting other people's 
systems because of this.


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Bill Long                                           longb at cray.com
Fortran Technical Support    &                 voice: 651-605-9024
Bioinformatics Software Development            fax:   651-605-9142
Cray Inc./Cray Plaza, Suite 210/380 Jackson St./St. Paul, MN 55101

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