Both the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are building 20-petaflop supercomputer systems that are expected to ready in 2012. The new systems would be much more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers.
James Hack, director of ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences, says their machine will use accelerators to boost performance, but he offered no other details about its design. Lawrence Livermore's machine is being built by IBM and could be eligible for consideration on the June 2012 Top500 list, says LLNL's Don Johnston. Meanwhile, China also is looking to build more powerful supercomputers, and analysts say the global attention of the supercomputing race may raise the profile of the industry and boost government funding.
The international supercomputing competition is occurring in conjunction with the development of new architectures and programming models to support exascale systems, which are 1,000 times more powerful than a petascale system. Exascale will have "tremendous implications for human health, biology, and many other fields, too," says ORNL's Jeremy Smith.
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