Dr. William Sawyer, Exa2Green, Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, Switzerland
One look at the www.top500.org proves it: The exponential growth in supercomputer power has now gone on for decades. Every time physical realities — for example the limits in processor frequency — impinge on this trend, human ingenuity finds workarounds, for example, the evolution of multi-core technology. The hounds have long been barking in the distance, heralding the demise of Moore’s Law and reminding us that memory bandwidth is not keeping pace with processing power. And now energy consumption is a key bottleneck: critics correctly point out that a computing center cannot have its own dedicated nuclear power plant. Certainly the HPC advances cannot go on forever.
There is good reason to believe that the trend will continue to Exascale and beyond. Human ingenuity still has the upper hand: new stacked memory offers a new increase in bandwidth; multi-core has given way to many-core, and new processors are effectively reducing energy consumption per Flop. In this talk we present some milestones at the Swiss National Computing Centre. Since the installation of our flagship platform, Piz Daint, we have experimented with new numerical algorithms, developed domain-specific languages, and used new compiler features to refactor codes for its constituent Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to attain dramatic improvements in time-to-solution and energy-to-solution. We draw the conclusion that HPC is alive and well on its way to Exascale and beyond.