IBMer Testifies Before Congress on Future of Supercomputing

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David W. Turek, VP of Technical Computing OpenPOWER, with IBM Systems today testified before a U.S. Congress subcommittee on the scientific, economic and social benefits of sustained investment in homegrown supercomputing R&D.

However, as Turek pointed out, the supercomputing playing field has evolved. The age of big data, when the world’s daily data production is equivalent to 250 million football fields full of books, is testing the limits of even the most advanced computing systems. While the U.S. has historically led the world in supercomputing breakthroughs, new sovereign players are stepping onto the scene. And there are other challenges. Pursuing advancements in memory, networking technology, software and energy efficiency is essential to laying the foundation for a new generation of supercomputers that will deliver the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

Some progress, as Turek pointed out, is being made. Continuing its highly-successful, 20 year innovation partnership with the Department of Energy, IBM recently announced it will deliver the world’s most advanced supercomputers to the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. By utilizing a new “data-centric” computing approach where processing power is located everywhere data resides, these systems will more efficiently tackle big data challenges while using less energy.

The Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge systems are important steps on the path to exascale computing (PDF, 2.09MB), but Turek emphasized that sustained Congressional support for the ACSR is key to preserving U.S. leadership in supercomputing innovation.

What could that innovation yield? Turek imagined a handheld device, packed with the full contents of the U.S. Library of Congress, whose intelligent, real-time cognitive capabilities could return answers to almost any question, in any language, nearly instantaneously.

IBM’s closing message to our nation’s leaders? Making that vision a reality is only possible with sustained Congressional support, and through close collaboration between the tech and supercomputing industries, research universities and America’s national laboratories.

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Download the testimony

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