The Week in Review
Here is a collection of highlights from this week’s news stream as reported by HPCwire.
Computer Science Enrollment Trending Upward
For the second year in a row, both the number of undergraduate students enrolled in computer science departments and the number of undergraduates majoring in computer science increased significantly after steep decline for nearly a decade, according to the Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey.
From the Computing Research Policy blog:
The number of new students majoring in computer science increased 8.5 percent over last year. The total number of majors increased 5.5 percent, yielding a two-year increase of 14 percent. Computer science graduation rates should increase in two to three years as these new students graduate.
This growth comes at the same time as goverment projections anticipate that careers in computing are among those that will grow fastest over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, predicts that computer science graduates can anticipate excellent job prospects with higher than average salaries.
The chair of the CRA, Dr. Eric Grimson, shared his thoughts on the increase:
This upward surge proves that computer science is cool again. Computers, smartphones and online social networks are a daily part of young people’s lives. It should come as no surprise that today’s students want to learn more about computing.
Surely, driving interest in technology is a complex, multi-faceted issue, but it seems possible that the new administration’s pro-science policies are already reaping dividends. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), aka “the stimulus package,” provided approximately $21 billion for scientific research and development, scientific equipment, and science-related construction.
IBM Partners with Forschungszentrum Juelich to Develop Exascale System
Once the petascale barrier was surpassed, it was inevitable that the future-minded would look to hit the next big mark. In the scheme of big number counting, we have the terms teraflop, petaflop and exaflop, each representing a 1,000-fold increase of the one before. So the trajectory is exponential, not linear, which just adds to the intensity of the challenge. On average, that 1,000 fold increase in processing power takes about 10 years to achieve, which would put the creation of an exascale system in the 2018-2019 timeframe.
In that spirit, IBM has announced its latest Exascale Innovation Center, this one a partership with the German Supercomputing Center, Forschungszentrum Juelich. The two parties signed a contract to develop hardware and software for an exascale supercomputer that will be under development through the end of the decade.
Professor Bachem, the chairman of the board of directors of Forschungszentrum Juelich, characterized the exascale project at ”the premier challenge for supercomputing worldwide.”
Forschungszentrum Juelich is already home to the petaflop-level JUGENE supercomputer, a BlueGene/P system, and the fastest supercomputer in Europe based on the latest TOP500 listing. So it makes sense that Forschungszentrum Juelich is one of a few clients that IBM has selected to assist with the development testing of the next iteration the IBM Blue Gene architecture.
A prototype of the new exascale supercomputer is expected to be ready in 2015, with a full exaflop-level machine planned for 2019.
IBM is not alone in its exaflop aspirations; other companies have announced their own exascale projects in recent months. For example, in December, Cray launched its Exascale Research Initiative in Frankfurt, Germany, and in November, Intel announced plans to create its European Exascale Computing Research Center in Paris, France.