by Steven Witucki, assistant editor LIVEwire
Dallas, Texas — Opening ceremonies for the SC2000 Supercomputing Convention took place this morning in Dallas, Texas. The ceremonies began with a tribute to the past and ended with a peek at the possible future of high performance computing.
A film clip created by the Computer Museum History Center was played before the ceremonies began. The clip showed several photographs of the high performance machines that have shaped the industry — from the slide rule to the supercomputers of today.
The clip also featured important personalities from computing history, including Dr. Jack Kilby. Kilby recently was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in recognition of his work on the intigrated circuit. Kilby spoke briefly at the opening ceremonies. “I’ve been watching the computer museum slides that they’ve shown on the screen,” he said. “They bring back a lot of memories. . .The exciting thing is that that that progress isn’t over. It’s still going on, and I’m sure that the best is yet to come.”
After Mr. Kilby’s remarks, Steven J. Wallach, co-founder of Convex Computer Corporation, spoke of the future of computing power in a presentation titled “Petaflops in the Year 2009.” Wallach believes that optic switching is a key to the future of high performance computing systems.
“By the end of this decade, we’ll begin to have optical channels coming off a chip,” Wallach said. “So rather than having thousands of pins we’ll have one or two fibers, and those fibers themselves can have multiple channels. ” He predicted optical channels of 40 gigahertz or more. Wallach felt that “in this case, the computer industry has to follow the telecommunications industry, because that’s where millions of dollars are spent to acheive these performance numbers.”
“There are a lot of people working on (optics), mainly because of the internet. The thing that I was trying to get accross is that the industry, I believe, must leverage what’s happening in telecommunications, because that’s where the high bandwidth stuff is happening.”
Wallach was the chief designer of the Convex C-Series, as well as the Exemplar Scalable Parallel Processor (SPP), HP/Convexs. Wallach is currently an advisor to CenterPoint ( http://www.centerpointvp.com ) Venture Partners, Dallas, Texas and Vice President of Technology of Chiaro Networks ( http://www.chiaro.com ), Richardson, Texas. Wallach may be best known outside HPCN circles as the Data General engineer who was the principal architect of the 32-bit Eclipse MV superminicomputer series as described by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder in “The Soul of A New Machine. ”
Wallach holds 33 patents in various areas of computer design and held a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Management and Brown School of Engineering, Computer Science, Rice University for the 1998 and 1999 academic years. He is a member of the PITAC (Presidential Advisory Board on High Performance Computing, Communications, and Networking) and the advisory committee for the Hybrid Technology MultiThreaded Architecture (HTMT) a US DOD funded project to develop the concepts for a PETAFLOP computer. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering.