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Always Improving Performance

Communications of the ACM

As a young man, Jack Dongarra thought he would probably teach science to high school students. That was his plan when he enrolled at Chicago State College, which had become Chicago State University by the time he graduated in 1972. Over the course of his studies, he began to be fascinated by computers. In his senior year, physics professor Harvey Leff suggested he apply for an internship at nearby Argonne National Laboratory, where he could gain some computing experience. There, Dongarra joined a group developing EISPACK, a software library for calculating eigenvalues, components of linear algebra that are important to performing simulations of chemistry and physics.


Fugaku Takes the Lead

Communications of the ACM

Japan's arm-based Fugaku supercomputing system has been acknowledged as the world's most powerful supercomputer. In June 2020, the system earned the top spot in the Top500 ranking of the 500 most powerful commercially available computer systems on the planet, for its performance on a longstanding metric for massive scientific computation. Although modern supercomputing tasks often emphasize somewhat different capabilities, Fugaku also outperforms by other measures as well. This architecture just wins big time," said Torsten Hoefler of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. "It is a super-large step." Hoefler shared the 2019 ACM Gordon Bell Prize with an ETH Zurich team for simulations of heat and quantum electronic flow in nanoscale transistors performed in part on the previous Top500 leader, the Summit System at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.


Jack Dongarra, who made supercomputers usable, awarded 2021 ACM Turing prize

ZDNet

"Science is driven by simulation," observed Dongarra. "It's that match between the hardware capability, and the necessity of the simulations to use that hardware, where my software fits in." A good chunk of Jack J. Dongarra's life has been spent shuttling between two worlds. In one world, a group of mathematicians sit with pen and paper and imagine things that could be figured out with computers. In another world, a colossus of integrated circuits sits with incredible power but also incredible constraints -- speed, memory, energy, cost.


How the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer Inched Toward the Exascale - IEEE Spectrum

#artificialintelligence

In June, the ranks of the Top500 list were rearranged, and the title of world's most powerful supercomputer was handed off to a new machine--China's Sunway TaihuLight. The Wuxi-based machine can perform the Linpack Benchmark--a long-standing arbiter of supercomputer prowess--at a rate of 93 petaflops, or 93 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. This performance is more than twice that of the previous record holder, China's Tianhe-2. What's more, TaihuLight achieves this capacity while consuming 2.4 megawatts less power than Tianhe-2. Such efficiency gains are important if supercomputer designers hope to reach exascale operation, somewhere in the realm of 1,000 Pflops.


How the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer Inched Toward the Exascale

#artificialintelligence

In June, the ranks of the Top500 list were rearranged, and the title of world's most powerful supercomputer was handed off to a new machine--China's Sunway TaihuLight. The Wuxi-based machine can perform the Linpack Benchmark--a long-standing arbiter of supercomputer prowess--at a rate of 93 petaflops, or 93 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. This performance is more than twice that of the previous record holder, China's Tianhe-2. What's more, TaihuLight achieves this capacity while consuming 2.4 megawatts less power than Tianhe-2. Such efficiency gains are important if supercomputer designers hope to reach exascale operation, somewhere in the realm of 1,000 Pflops.