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When Will We Have an Exascale Supercomputer?

2023 if we do it right; tomorrow if we do it crazy

4 min read
When Will We Have an Exascale Supercomputer?
Supercomputer, Superceded: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, home to Sequoia (above), will host a much more powerful machine in 2017.
Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The global race to build more powerful supercomputers is focusedon the next big milestone: a supercomputer capable of performing 1 million trillion floating-point operations per second (1 exaflops). Such a system will require a big overhaul of how these machines compute, how they move data, and how they’re programmed. It’s a process that might not reach its goal for eight years. But the seeds of future success are being designed into two machines that could arrive in just two years.

China and Japan each seem focused on building an exascale supercomputer by 2020. But the United States probably won’t build its first practical exascale supercomputer until 2023 at the earliest, experts say. To hit that target, engineers will need to do three things. First they’ll need new computer architectures capable of combining tens of thousands of CPUs and graphics-processor-based accelerators. Engineers will also need to deal with the growing energy costs required to move data from a supercomputer’s memory to the processors. Finally, software developers will have to learn how to build programs that can make use of the new architecture.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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