Monday, June 09, 2008

Petaflop in the NY Times

A Petaflop of Cell Processors made the NY Times. Highlights of the article: 12960 total Cell chips with (9*12960)= 116640 cores.

The article tries twice to turn the supercomputing top-spot as an issue of national pride. It also discusses the difficulty in programming these devices and how the next generation of consumer products will require programming paradigms for massively multicore hardware. The article also mentions the fact that the three types of cores requires a heterogeneous partitioner. Now, they are probably doing manual partitioning and making sure they're designs are highly symmetric. If we want to build large computational pipelines we need a hardware agnostic programming model for parallel programming that handles partitioning, placement and profiling.

According to a OpenFPGA Corelib presentation from Altera last Thursday, we could probably get a Petaflop by replacing all the Cells in this deployment with FPGAs. It seems plausible that a Petaflop-capable FPGA supercomputers will exist and will be better used for 2-bit DNA problems.

Brute force scaling and twice the funding will get us an ExaFlop at 32 nm. The next major leap in supercomputing is going to require a materials/fabrication advance. FinFets and 3-D integration will get us a ZettaFlop in the sub-22nm range.

I expect molar-scale integration using directed self-assembly of reconfigurable arrays will disrupt this process sometime in the 5 to 10 year range. We will then realize the supercomputers we are building to study global warming are the cause of global warming.

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