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Next-generation software: who will write it?

Robert Roe finds that software scalability and portability may be more important even

than energy efficiency to the future of HPC

programming models and an ecosystem of shared knowledge and experience to scale soſtware effectively. Parallel programming skills are in relatively short supply, but they are becoming more


s HPC systems and their soſtware increase in complexity, users need access to more specialised

important as new processor and accelerator technologies increase the levels of parallelism in HPC systems. At the same time, these new

types of processors are also leading to a diversification of compute architectures, thus splitting the experience and coding knowledge- base. HPC users may develop


skills around a particular compute architecture and its associated programming model, only to discover if they move to a different institution, of if they stay put but their organisation upgrades, they have to learn new skills entirely. At the end of 2014, the market-

research company Intersect360 research surveyed a number of HPC centres as part of a report written for the US government council of competitiveness. Te results showed that soſtware scalability was viewed as one of the largest barriers to a 10x increase in the scalability and hence the productivity of high-

performance computing. Addison Snell, chief executive

officer, and CEO of Intersect360 gave his view on how this diversification of architectures may impact HPC in the future. He said: ‘Te stress point is that it takes us back to specialisation. What the cluster era gave us, in the 1990s, was this notion of portability or commonality. If I ported an application to run on someone’s Linux cluster, it would run on any Linux cluster. ‘Tis takes us back and away

from this. You are really going to have to choose an architecture

@scwmagazine l

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