Chinese Supercomputer vs. Blue Waters

The hype about the new Chinese supercomputer is deafening. Do a Google news search if you doubt it.

And about the same week, the rumors started to appear about a major release on solving a mystery for HIV. One of the articles was titled"GPUs Help Researchers Uncover New Approach to Combating HIV Virus" (read the article but more importantly watch the video). This news got none of the hype that the Chinese supercomputer that ran the Top500 LINPACK test did, and yet it actually solved something that could have a dramatic impact worldwide.

So I am asking myself, why did the press care more about a some new petaflop monster rather than a system that actually will help people on our planet. Is this the press or is this something more sinister? People seem to want the USA to compete in the petaflop race without understanding what applications will run well on the system and what restructuring will be required.

The Blue Waters team working on the HIV project has yet to run and submit the LINPACK results. And what would be the value given the fine work that they have done and they will continue to do?

Building supercomputers for the sake of running the Top500 LINPACK test and having the number one system in the world does not mean that the machine has enough memory, communications, bandwidth or storage space to do leading-edge scientific research. The Chinese machine is a good example of that with limited memory, high-latency interconnect and minimal storage bandwidth and space.

In my opinion, we should be highlighting the accomplishments of the scientific community on systems designed for scientific leadership rather than listening to the hype in the press about a machine that cannot do much of anything other than the Top500 tests.

Labels: high-performance computing,supercomputers,China,HPC,TOP500

posted by: Henry Newman

Henry Newman, InfoStor Blogger
by Henry Newman
InfoStor Blogger

Henry Newman is CEO and CTO of Instrumental Inc. and has worked in HPC and large storage environments for 29 years. The outspoken Mr. Newman initially went to school to become a diplomat, but was firmly told during his first year that he might be better suited for a career that didn't require diplomatic skills. Diplomacy's loss was HPC's gain.

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