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Why the U.S. may lose the race to exascale

Patrick Thibodeau | Nov. 25, 2013
In the global race to build the next generation of supercomputers -- exascale -- there is no guarantee the U.S. will finish first.

The Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, for instance, just announced a cooperation agreement on petascale computing with Japan. Peter Beckman, a top computer scientist at the laboratory and head of an international exascale software effort, said the pact calls for information sharing with Japanese HPC scientists. The two groups are expected to discuss how they manage their machines, their power and other operational topics. The effort is analogous to Facebook's Open Compute project, where some aspects of data center designs and operations are openly shared.

"We're not competing at this level," said Beckman. "We're just trying to run stuff."

On a broader scale, there is considerable effort internationally on writing programs for large-scale parallel machines, but no agreement on approach.

"That is one area where people really want to work together," said Beckman. "You want to be able to write portable code, and there does not seem to be competition in that. We want the railroad gauge to be the same in every country, because it just makes our lives are lot easier."



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