The Success Story of HPC


ISC is over and before we prepare for SC 2012 in Salt Lake City there is time to relax and think. After so many talks and panels, after the many dinner discussions and lunch debates one may wonder what the situation of supercomputing looks like in 2012 and how it is going to change over the next years.

The fact that the number of participants both at ISC and SC is still growing indicates that supercomputing still is growing in relevance.  We furthermore see more and more companies engaging in supercomputing technology. Some of them are well established leaders in the IT industry. Others are newcomers that target specific market niches. The economic relevance of supercomputing is obviously increasing. This includes a diversification of the field on the one hand and identifying new fields of supercomputing usage as well as new challenges to be addressed by supercomputing on the other hand.

IDC regularly reports an increase in investments in supercomputing. National projects – and supranational projects like PRACE – in supercomputing have been able to increase their budgets. The growing investments in China and Russia clearly indicate the importance of supercomputing for the industrial development of a country. These new competitors on the other hand increase the competitive pressure on existing national centers and projects in the US, Asia and Europe. While Japan is sticking to a single-center strategy putting nearly all efforts into a single prestige project, Europe has chosen the typical collaborative approach bringing together 24 countries into a single project and organization.

Public and political appreciation of supercomputing is also growing. This is not only indicated by the continuing support of President Obama for the US supercomputing efforts. The fact that so many national projects are able to increase – sometimes double or even triple – their budgets indicates an increasing awareness of the importance of supercomputing in the public and political arena.

Public interest for supercomputing systems is still high. The performance increase of personal computers is no longer relevant. New features and new concepts – like tablets – are the keys to market success. The same is true for network speeds. The rush for ever faster private internet connectivity has left pockets of underdeveloped regions – even in highly industrial countries. But basically the infrastructure for high speed internet connectivity to which we can couple our fancy personal computers is in place. Supercomputing remains as the one field that can still publicly claim to continue the success story of ever faster systems. Furthermore, simulations based on supercomputing are getting more visible. Opening up your daily newspaper you may well find an article about how computers showed that this or that is going to happen (be it the climate change or the aging society). Investigating further into this news we usually find a simulation on a supercomputer system behind the report.

To continue this line of success stories the community has identified the Exaflop system as the common target. National strategies have been devised, and international collaboration has reached a level of intensity that is comparable to the fundamental physics community. Supercomputing seems to be well positioned to extend its role as a leading technology for the 21st century.


About the author

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael M. Resch is the director of the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS), the director of the Department for High Performance Computing, and the director of the Information Center (IZUS) at the University of Stuttgart/Germany. Michael Resch has over 20 years of experience in HPC and was an invited plenary speaker at SC’07 in Reno/USA. He is a member of the board of the German Gauss Center for Supercomputing (GCS), and is a member of advisory councils for Microsoft, Triangle Venture Capital Group and a number of foundations. Michael Resch is a member of the advisory board of the Paderborn Center for Parallel Computing (PC2) and a member of the steering committee of the IDC HPC User Forum. He has contributed for years to the success of ISC and has been active in a variety of conferences and community activities in supercomputing over the last years. Michael Resch holds a degree in Technical Mathematics from the Technical University of Graz/Austria and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Stuttgart/Germany. In 2002 he held an Assistant Professorship at the department of computer science of the University of Houston/TX. In 2009 he was awarded an honourable doctoral degree from the National Technical University of Donezk/Ukraine. In 2011 he was awarded an honourable doctoral degree from the Russian Academy of Science.


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c.  Dr. h.c. Michael Resch

   Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Michael Resch

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