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, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 845-7078
Neal Singer | EurekAlert!
Information integration and artificial intelligence for better diagnosis and therapy decisions
24.05.2017 | Fraunhofer MEVIS - Institut für Bildgestützte Medizin
World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world
18.05.2017 | RMIT University
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy