Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

One million trillion ‘flops’ per second targeted by new Institute for Advanced Architectures

25.02.2008
‘Exascale’ computing envisioned by Sandia and Oak Ridge researchers

Preparing groundwork for an exascale computer is the mission of the new Institute for Advanced Architectures, launched jointly at Sandia and Oak Ridge national laboratories.

An exaflop is a thousand times faster than a petaflop, itself a thousand times faster than a teraflop. Teraflop computers —the first was developed 10 years ago at Sandia — currently are the state of the art. They do trillions of calculations a second. Exaflop computers would perform a million trillion calculations per second.

The idea behind the institute —under consideration for a year and a half prior to its opening — is “to close critical gaps between theoretical peak performance and actual performance on current supercomputers,” says Sandia project lead Sudip Dosanjh. “We believe this can be done by developing novel and innovative computer architectures.”

Ultrafast supercomputers improve detection of real-world conditions by helping researchers more closely examine the interactions of larger numbers of particles over time periods divided into smaller segments.

“An exascale computer is essential to perform more accurate simulations that, in turn, support solutions for emerging science and engineering challenges in national defense, energy assurance, advanced materials, climate, and medicine,” says James Peery, director of computation, computers and math.

The institute is funded in FY08 by congressional mandate at $7.4 million. It is supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Sandia is an NNSA laboratory.

One aim, Dosanjh says, is to reduce or eliminate the growing mismatch between data movement and processing speeds.

Processing speed refers to the rapidity with which a processor can manipulate data to solve its part of a larger problem. Data movement refers to the act of getting data from a computer’s memory to its processing chip and then back again. The larger the machine, the farther away from a processor the data may be stored and the slower the movement of data.

“In an exascale computer, data might be tens of thousands of processors away from the processor that wants it,” says Sandia computer architect Doug Doerfler. “But until that processor gets its data, it has nothing useful to do. One key to scalability is to make sure all processors have something to work on at all times.”

Compounding the problem is new technology that has enabled designers to split a processor into first two, then four, and now eight cores on a single die. Some special-purpose processors have 24 or more cores on a die. Dosanjh suggests there might eventually be hundreds operating in parallel on a single chip.

“In order to continue to make progress in running scientific applications at these [very large] scales,” says Jeff Nichols, who heads the Oak Ridge branch of the institute, “we need to address our ability to maintain the balance between the hardware and the software. There are huge software and programming challenges and our goal is to do the critical R&D to close some of the gaps.”

Operating in parallel means that each core can work its part of the puzzle simultaneously with other cores on a chip, greatly increasing the speed a processor operates on data. The method does not require faster clock speeds, measured in faster gigahertz, which would generate unmanageable amounts of heat to dissipate as well as current leakage.

The new method bolsters the continued relevance of Moore’s Law, the 1965 observation of Intel cofounder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors placed on a single computer chip will double approximately every two years.

Another problem for the institute is to reduce the amount of power needed to run a future exascale computer.

“The electrical power needed with today’s technologies would be many tens of megawatts — a significant fraction of a power plant. A megawatt can cost as much as a million dollars a year,” says Dosanjh. “We want to bring that down.”

Sandia and Oak Ridge will work together on these and other problems, he says. “Although all of our efforts will be collaborative, in some areas Sandia will take the lead and Oak Ridge may lead in others, depending on who has the most expertise in a given discipline.” In addition, a key component of the institute will be the involvement of industry and universities.

A spontaneous demonstration of wide interest in faster computing was evidenced in the response to an invitation-only workshop, “Memory Opportunities for High-Performing Computing,” sponsored in January by the institute.

Workshop organizers planned for 25 participants but nearly 50 attended. Attendees represented the national labs, DOE, National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and leading manufacturers of processors and supercomputing systems.

Ten years ago, people worldwide were astounded at the emergence of a teraflop supercomputer — that would be Sandia’s ASCI Red — able in one second to perform a trillion mathematical operations.

More recently, bloggers seem stunned that a machine capable of petaflop computing — a thousand times faster than a teraflop — could soon break the next barrier of a thousand trillion mathematical operations a second.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Neal Singer, nsinger@sandia.gov, (505) 845-7078

Neal Singer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668

nachricht Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>