Well, that is certainly something to think about. All the other things going on and failing to have more than 1 contender in the top 4 computers gets the attention of Congress?
That’s what is claimed in a piece on ComputerWorld. With the Cray XT5 Jaguar (residing at Oak Ridge, Tennessee) running at only about 2/3 the speed of the top supercomputer in the world, 2.5 petaflops, and that computer residing in China, along with the number 4 computer as well, it has been predicted that this will get an answer from our leaders.
Addison Snell, CEO of InterSect360, a high-performance computing research group, said Asia’s showing in supercomputers will get the attention of political leaders.
“When it’s all over the popular press that three of the top four supercomputers in the world, according to how they measure it, are in Asia, there is no way there is not a response in Congress to that,” Snell said.
So what is being said here is that being one up on China will break loose dollars for research and development of a newer faster model.
Lest you think the only reason for this is being one up, it is also stated that much of what drives the economy is being able to simulate certain things in real time, or over time, which affect design of things. Having that kind of power brings in dollars from those that wish to use the computing power for their development.
Supercomputing allows research to simulate environments; the more powerful the computer, the larger and more detailed the simulation. For example, with the right capacity, a computer could simulate the working of a human cell at the atomic level. Supercomputers can also help manufacturers speed product development by allowing engineers to design, change and test products in virtual environments before producing physical prototypes. The largest systems are typically built by governments.
Nvidia’s work on high-performance computing is supported by the U.S. government through a research contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Keane said.
DARPA, in a request for proposals from vendors earlier this year, said that current processing systems are “grossly power-inefficient” and that technology trends “have reached a performance wall.”
One of the means for solving this has been to turn to graphics processing units, which are roughly about 10 times more efficient than CPUs, said Keane. The DARPA contract is helping Nvidia to devote more research to such problems, he said.
This is what has kept nVidia afloat with all the other troubles it has been having. It is not, though many would like to believe, little Johnny buying that second GTX 480 for SLI that is keeping the people at nVidia working. Also, note that nowhere have we seen large scale adoption of any ATi products for this kind of work. ATi (AMD) is quite late to the party on this one, and at this point, it is uncertain if things will ever change in their favor.
The story further tells why the switch to GPGPU computing is coming – efficiency.
Nivida’s GPU technology was used in the top-ranked Chinese and Japanese systems. The U.S. system, Jaguar, built entirely of CPUs, uses about 7 megawatts. In comparison, the GPU-based Chinese Tianhe-1A system uses about 4 megawatts.
So nVidia will continue to function well even if little Johnny decides that he wants to go ATi the next time around.
On top of that, we are given good news in the overall sense – the United States has many supercomputers around the nation; many more than other nations.
Despite the change in the top supercomputing rankings, the U.S. maintains a sizable lead in supercomputing. Of the 500 top supercomputers in the world, 274 are in the U.S.
So though we may need to “get on the ball” to build a top performer once again, it is clear that much of the world’s research and development money will keep coming into the United States for the foreseeable future.