Here's a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week's HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com and HPCwire.
>>Up on the hill
There was more relevant action on Capitol Hill this week as the Senate considered the America COMPETES Act. COMPETES stands for Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science. This is an astonishingly bad acronym, even for the government.
The CRA's Policy Blog this week summarized what they know of the bill, which we understand at this time (full text not yet available) includes: increasing research investment; strengthening education in science, technology, and math starting at K-12; and “developing an innovation infrastructure.”
Among the provisions likely to have a direct impact on HPC:
- Double funding for NSF and Department of Energy Office of Science by FY2011
- Direct federal agencies that fund S&T research to set a goal of 8 percent of their R&D budgets to fund high-risk frontier research
- Authorize NIST at $937 million by FY2011 and requiring NIST to use a minimum of 8 percent of its funding for high-risk, high-reward research
Bill Gates testified in hearings related to the bill in the Senate on Wednesday. You can find more coverage and details from the CRA at http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog/archives/000569.html and http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog/archives/000570.html.
Let's face it: there simply isn't a technology that isn't made cooler when lasers are added. Just ask Dr. Evil.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that startup Lightfleet, Inc. is building a new multiprocessor architecture that replaces the wires that are SO 20th century for connecting processors with lasers. From the article,
“The design is particularly efficient at sending 'all-to-all' messages between chips in a system,” said Bill Dress, a Lightfleet senior scientist and co-inventor of the technology. “Because the system sends light through air, Lightfleet avoids the need for wiring and associated switching circuitry and software,” he added.
Through the air, friends. Anyway, full version at http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117280769870724505-ZdX0zmXR6rQUIkhpaYrHrYBzZkM_20080301.html?mod=blogs.
>>Intel addresses processor glut by selling more new chips
The computer industry is having a supply and demand problem these days: too much supply is driving prices down. In the face of continued low demand for chips, things are going to get hard for the boys in the Valley.
In a ComputerWorld article this week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini argued that even in a glut people will buy the top chip, which goes a long way to explaining how he is going to steer Intel around this bump in the balance sheet. From the article:
“The company has announced a pace of upgrading its processor architecture and shrinking its transistor geometry in alternating years. That puts Intel on schedule to upgrade its 65-nanometer Core 2 Duo processor to a 'Penryn' 45nm geometry chip in 2007. The following year, Intel will upgrade its Core microarchitecture to the new 'Nehalem' model and in 2009 shrink those chips to an even smaller, 32nm scale.”
This marks a return to the company's previous 2-year technology refresh cycle, but it is great to see that their chip naming convention will remain nearly inscrutable. Full story at http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9012320.
>>Data, data, everywhere
The AP carried a story this week, which was featured on BusinessWeek.com, highlighting the results of a new study by IDC. The study tries to get a handle on how much data we're creating these days, and they found some pretty big numbers. Their study puts current data production at more than 8 times the amount generated in 2003. Here's the hook:
“IDC estimates that the world had 185 exabytes of storage available last year and will have 601 exabytes in 2010. But the amount of stuff generated is expected to jump from 161 exabytes last year to 988 exabytes (closing in on 1 zettabyte) in 2010.”
So if we kept it all we wouldn't have a place to put it. Which all happily reinforces my recent decision to delete, rather than save indefinitely, my email. See, I'm helping; take that, Al Gore!
You can find the full article at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8NM9BDG0.htm.
The 2007 International Symposium on Code Generation and Optimization (CGO) will be held from March 11 – 14, 2007 and precedes the annual ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (PPoPP 2007). CGO info at http://www.cgo.org/.
Swift was released this week. The open source package is “a system for the specification, execution, and management of applications comprising many tasks coupled by disk-resident datasets. Such applications are common when analyzing large quantities of data, performing parameter studies, and/or executing ensemble simulations.” More info at http://ianfoster.typepad.com/blog/2007/03/swift_takes_win.html.
SC Online reported this week that in order to measure how well public school students are learning, New York City will spend $80 million on a supercomputer designed to analyze the performance of the city's 1.1 million school kids. But will all that data for teachers mean better performance for kids? Full story at http://www.supercomputingonline.com/article.php?sid=13172.
Cray announced this week that the company will support the new standard and low-power AMD Opteron processors. Cray will offer AMD Opteron processor Models 1220 (103 Watts) and 1218 HE (68 Watts) in future versions of the company's Cray XT4 supercomputer series.
John West summarizes the headlines in HPC every day at insideHPC.com , and writes on leadership and career issues for technology professionals at InfoWorld and on his own blog at onlytraitofaleader.com. You can contact him at [email protected].