Software and power key to supercomputers beyond petaflop

IBM and Sun have announced petaflop supercomputers. They indicate that there are no barriers to more computer power but the most important issues going forward are to manage and reduce power usage and to improve software.

“The hardware speed [of supercomputers] will not reach a plateau,” said Simon See, Sun Microsystems’ director for Advance Computing Solution, System Practice and Global Science and Tech Network, in an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia. “However, what might prevent effectiveness could be the software layer on the hardware.”

“Accelerator chips speed up performance by taking over some computing tasks from the main processor,” he explained. “CBE is good at graphics, so a CBE accelerator would perform graphics-intensive calculations.”

Dunn noted that while there does not appear to be any engineering or technical hurdles that would keep supercomputing speeds from gaining, “the biggest issue is probably the ability to fund the necessary innovations”.

Scaling up to a petaflop with IBM’s Blue Gene/P