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high-performance computing

to Exascale technical computing. Tese technologies are also explicitly intended to transform the much wider, and financially more important sector of the economy, that is enterprise computing. ‘Tere are game- changing elements to what we are doing,’ Ken King, general manger of OpenPower Alliances at IBM, told Scientific Computing World. European companies appear to have

reached parallel conclusions too. Bull, for example, emphasised how it intends to widen the scope of its operations by taking technologies developed for the HPC market and reaching out to enhance its position in IT for the enterprise. One of the public, and perhaps rather

glib, justifications for investing in exascale has been that it would make petaflop computing cheaper, more accessible and more widespread – bringing powerful computational techniques within the reach of even quite modest engineering companies. Now it appears that the ramifications of l

Exascale reach more widely still – beyond technical high performance computing into business and commercial applications. Te joint Collaboration of Oak Ridge,

Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore (Coral) was established in late 2013 to streamline procurement and reduce the costs of investing in the development of supercomputing – procurement contracts


being a long-standing method by which the US Government provides ‘hidden’ subsidies for its high-tech industry. Te US Department of Energy (DoE) chose a consortium including IBM, Nvidia, and Mellanox, to build two supercomputers for the Oak Ridge and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Argonne’s machine will be announced later.


But the event’s full significance lies

elsewhere than in the niche application of supercomputing. Instead, the partners in the winning consortium see it as a way to open up the world of enterprise computing to their new technologies that, in their view, offer a way to master the swelling volume of data that commercial companies have to cope with – not only in technical applications such as engineering simulation and design, but also in commercial applications such as business intelligence. Commenting on the DoE announcement,

both Sumit Gupta, general manager of accelerated computing at Nvidia, and David Turek, vice president of technical computing OpenPower at IBM, stressed the importance of the design chosen for Oak Ridge and Livermore not just for scaling up to ever faster and more powerful machines, but also for ‘scaling down’, so to speak. Turek maintained that he had always been

slightly sceptical of the line of argument that Exascale would inevitably deliver cheap

DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015 13 ➤

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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