Fear of thinking war machines may push US to exascale

June 23, 2013
Tianhe-2-supercomputer

Tianhe 2 (credit: National University of Defense Technology, China)

China’s retaking of the global supercomputing crown was discussed at a congressional forum this week on cognitive computing, Computerworld reports.

Unlike China and Europe, the U.S. has yet to adopt and fund an exascale development program.

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), who talked about China’s new 33.89-petaflop system, Tianhe-2, is finalizing a bill “that will push our nation toward exascale” — the American Supercomputing Leadership Act. It would  require the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a coordinated exascale research program. One source said about an annual appropriation of $200 million, if not more, will be sought.

An exascale computer is operates at 1,000 petaflops (one petaflop is one thousand trillion floating point operations per second).

Earl Joseph, an HPC analyst at IDC, said that “$200 million is better than nothing, but compared to China and Europe it’s at least 10 times too low.” Joseph said that it’s his guess that the world will see an exascale system by 2015 or 2016 “installed outside the U.S. It will take a lot of power and it will be large, but it will provide a major capability.” [...]