During the last several years there has been an increasing awareness that exascale (1018 operations/sec) computer systems may be feasible by the end of the next decade. This community awareness began through a series of town hall meetings held at Argonne, Berkeley and Oak Ridge in the spring of 2007, a series of DARPA sponsored workshops and study groups looking at challenges for exascale hardware and software and most recently a series of eight DOE workshops covering applications ranging from climate, to high-energy and nuclear physics to biology. DOE has launched a joint planning effort between the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security laboratories to develop the science case and a roadmap that includes technology research and development, hardware platform development, programming models and software development and science code development. While it is generally assumed in the science community that there are many problems whose solution can be advanced by access to three orders of magnitude more computing capability than exists today, it is unclear at this point how many problems will actually be able to effectively utilize the systems that will be possible to build. In this talk I will describe the technical barriers (e.g. device power, optics, packaging, concurrency, etc.) to developing exascale systems, the current approaches to attack those barriers and the science that we hope will drive the venture.
Argonne Physics Division Colloquium Schedule