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Supercomputers Let ­p on Speed

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supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For Blue Waters, a supercomputer to be housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, quickness is not of the essence.

Credit: Kristen Schmid Schurter / The Chronicle of Higher Education

Smarter rather than faster design appears to be coming into vogue as a gauge of a supercomputer's success. A federal report from the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology urges the provision of a more balanced portfolio of U.S. supercomputing development, and cautions against excessive emphasis on speed rankings. The study warns that "engaging in such an 'arms race' could be very costly, and could divert resources away from basic research aimed at developing the fundamentally new approaches" to supercomputing.

One supercomputer that favors smarter design over faster is Blue Waters from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Blue Waters features some memory that resides along the pathways between processors.

Future supercomputers may employ a system that operates in the manner of a search engine, distributing computational problems among processors distributed across an expansive physical network. The Graph500 supercomputer ranking unveiled in November does not measure processing speed, but rather how fast supercomputers solve complex problems related to randomly generated graphs.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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