Possible Disruptive technologies for supercomputers

First introduced at SC06 as the Exotic Technologies Initiative, the Disruptive Technologies activity will return to SC07. Each year, DT will serve as a forum for examining those technologies that may significantly reshape the world of HPC in the next five to fifteen years, but which are not common in today’s systems.

A disruptive technology is a technological innovation or product that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in the marketplace. This year’s SC07 (supercomputer 07) showcase will feature quantum computing, optical interconnects, CMOS photonics, carbon nanotube memory (Nantero NRAM), and software for massively-parallel multicore processors.

IBM Research has developed an Optical Printed Circuit Board technology consisting of chip-like optical transceivers (currently supporting 16+16 optical channels at 12.5Gbps each) and polymer waveguides on circuit cards.

Their technology would be disruptive in that it would replace today’s high cost optical modules based on glass fiber technology with mass manufacturable “optical printed circuit boards.” for short backplane and card level links. Although polymer based waveguides have higher losses than glass fiber technology, the ability to use lithographic processes to mass produce this technology coupled with the use of chip like optical components will allow a low cost solution for this ultra-short interconnect application. They are working to develop a supplier ecosystem to mature this technology in the next 5 to 7 years.

I have already been covering the Dwave systems quantum computer and Nantero NRAM.

Luxtera developed a breakthrough nanophotonic technology that enables manipulation of both photons and electrons on a single semiconductor CMOS die and can be produced in high-volume, low-cost mainstream CMOS processes. This breakthrough silicon photonics technology enables connection of fiberoptic cable directly to a silicon die.

ETI has developed a disruptive technology for many-core system software and logic co-verification. A complete system may contain many such chips (e.g. 64-bit 160 cores on a chip and many chips in a system in the case of the IBM Cyclops-64 supercomputer).