Friday, September 04, 2015

Exascale PR 

There is a race between the US and China over who can build the world's most powerful super computer.  The contest has the hallmarks of unhealthy competition and building to boast -- something like the space program of the 1960s.  One wonders whether there is a true need for a machine that can crunch one billion billion floating point operations per second.  Nuclear weapons designers say they can use it, but do they actually need all that power?  This is something that will be debated as the machine is built and once started, it is nearly impossible to turn back.  There is a PR boast in having the most powerful supercomputer in the world.  It's the "We're No. 1." chant that at its heart can be empty of meaning.  So, let them build but keep a focus on what such a giant machine is actually used for.  It would be a pity if there are not enough problems to solve at that size and speed.


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