National Strategic Computing Initiative

A new effort to create the next big super computer and applications for it

Just a few days ago, President Obama issued an executive order to create the most powerful super computer in the world. This executie order brings together a new initiative that will work with the existing branches of the government and make this daunting task possible. The scale of this initiative is incredibly ambitious, but I have no doubt that in due time, we will overcome the technical hurdles as well.

The National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) is an effort to create a cohesive, multi-agency strategic vision and Federal investment strategy in high-performance computing (HPC). This strategy will be executed in collaboration with industry and academia, maximizing the benefits of HPC for the United States.

This is a very exiting time to put together such an effort because many convergent ideas in medicine, physics and engineering for high level simulations are coming together requiring more computational power than what is available. This new HPC will allow us to do those at a scale that we can’t even imagine..

The NSCI has five themes to meet and guide the future of the program:

1. Create systems that can apply exaflops of computing power to exabytes of data.

These big data systems will approach scales measured in exabytes (10^18 bytes).

2. Keep the United States at the forefront of HPC capabilities.

3. Improve HPC application developer productivity.

Current HPC systems are very difficult to program, requiring careful measurement and tuning to get maximum performance on the targeted machine. Shifting a program to a new machine can require repeating much of this process, and it also requires making sure the new code gets the same results as the old code. The level of expertise and effort required to develop HPC applications poses a major barrier to their widespread use.

4. Make HPC readily available.

Right now, there are many companies and many research projects that could benefit from HPC technology, but they lack expertise and access. Many scientists and engineers also lack training in the concepts and tools for modeling and simulation and data analytics.

Agencies will work with both computer manufacturers and cloud providers to make HPC resources more readily available so that scientific researchers in both the public and private sectors have ready access. Agencies will sponsor the development of educational materials for next generation HPC systems, covering fundamental concepts in modeling, simulation, and data analytics, as well as the ability to formulate and solve problems using advanced computing.

5. Establish hardware technology for future HPC systems.