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Who Will Step Up to Exascale?

Science  18 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6117, pp. 264-266
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6117.264

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Summary

Supercomputing has marched from the first teraflop (1012 floating-point operations per second) machine to the first petaflop (1015 flops) machine in just 12 years. Extrapolate this steady rate of progress, and supercomputers should reach the exascale (1018 flops) in 2018. Such intense computing power could vastly improve everything from climate models to the engineering of engines to work with advanced biofuels. But trouble is brewing: Intel, IBM, and other hardware makers say they won't pursue exascale computers without government backing. While several countries are all flirting with exascale plans, to date, governments have balked at committing the hundreds of millions to billions of research dollars likely to be needed to create the new technology.