Exascale computing

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Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per second. Such capacity represents a thousandfold increase over the first petascale computer that came into operation in 2008.[1] (One exaflops is a thousand petaflops or a quintillion, 1018, floating point operations per second.) At a supercomputing conference in 2009, Computerworld projected exascale implementation by 2018.[2]

Exascale computing would be considered as a significant achievement in computer engineering, for it is believed to be the order of processing power of the human brain at neural level (functional might be lower). It is, for instance, the target power of the Human Brain Project.


In January 2012 Intel purchased the InfiniBand product line from QLogic for US $125 million in order to fulfill its promise of developing exascale technology by 2018.[3]

The initiative has been endorsed by two US agencies: the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration,[4] both of which are part of the US Department of Energy. The technology would be useful in various computation-intensive research areas, including basic research, engineering, earth science, biology, materials science, energy issues, and national security.[5]

The United States has put aside $126 million for exascale computing beginning in 2012.[6]

Three projects aiming at developing technologies and software for exascale computing have been started in 2011 within the European Union. The CRESTA project (Collaborative Research into Exascale Systemware, Tools and Applications),[7] the DEEP project (Dynamical ExaScale Entry Platform),[8] and the project Mont-Blanc.[9]

The Scalable, Energy-Efficient, Resilient and Transparent Software Adaptation (SERT) project, a major research project between the University of Manchester and the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, has been awarded almost £1million from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The SERT project was due to start in March 2015. It will be funded by EPSRC under the Software for the Future II programme, and the project will partner with the Numerical Analysis Group (NAG), Cluster Vision and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).[10]

In Japan, the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science is planning an exascale system for 2020, it will consume less than 30 megawatts.[11]

In February 2013[12] the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity started Cryogenic Computer Complexity (C3) program which envisions a new generation of superconducting supercomputers that operate at exascale speeds based on Superconducting logic. In December 2014 it announced a multi-year contract with International Business Machines, Raytheon BBN Technologies and Northrop Grumman to develop the technologies for C3 program.[13]

Optalysys claim that it will be able to deliver an 17.1 exaflops optical computer by 2020.[14]

On 29 July 2015, President Obama signed an executive order creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative calling for the accelerated development of an exascale system and funding research into post-semiconductor computing.[15]


It has been recognized that enabling applications to fully exploit capabilities of Exascale computing systems is not straightforward.[16] In fact, in June 2014, the stagnation of the Top500 supercomputer list had observers question the possibility of exascale systems by 2020.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Research Council (U.S.) (2008). The potential impact of high-end capability computing on four illustrative fields of science and engineering. The National Academies. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-309-12485-0. 
  2. ^ "Scientists, IT community await exascale computers". Computerworld. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  3. ^ "Intel Snaps Up InfiniBand Technology, Product Line from QLogic". 2012-01-23. 
  4. ^ "Exascale Computing Requires Chips, Power and Money". Wired.com. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  5. ^ "Science Prospects and Benefits with Exascale Computing" (PDF). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  6. ^ "Obama Budget Includes $126 Million for Exascale Computing". 
  7. ^ "Europe Gears Up for the Exascale Software Challenge with the 8.3M Euro CRESTA project". Project consortium. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Booster for Next-Generation Supercomputers Kick-off for the European exascale project DEEP". FZ Jülich. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Mont-Blanc project sets Exascale aims". Project consortium. 2011-10-31. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Developing Simulation Software to Combat Humanity’s Biggest Issues". Scientific Computuing. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Thibodeau, Patrick (November 22, 2013). "Why the U.S. may lose the race to exascale". Computerworld. 
  12. ^ "Proposers' Day Announcement for the IARPA Cryogenic Computing Complexity (C3) Program - IARPA-BAA-13-05(pd) (Archived)". Federal Business Opportunities. February 11, 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "US intel agency aims to develop superconducting computer". Reuters. December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ Anthony, Sebastian (August 8, 2014). "By 2020, you could have an exascale speed-of-light optical computer on your desk". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Executive Order Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative". The White House Office of the Press Secretary. July 29, 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  16. ^ Preparing HPC Applications for Exascale: Challenges and Recommendations, arXiv:1503.06974 [cs.DC], 2015-03-24 
  17. ^ Anthony, Sebastian (June 24, 2014). "Supercomputer stagnation: New list of the world’s fastest computers casts shadow over exascale by 2020". Extremetech.com. 


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