Key Factors Limiting Supercomputing Efficiency Progress

supercomputing

New report on energy-efficient computing

Phys.org, October 20, 2015. Image credit: blickpixel

A report that resulted from a workshop jointly funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) outlines key factors limiting progress in computing—particularly related to energy consumption—and novel research that could overcome these barriers.

“Fundamental research on hardware performance, complex system architectures, and new memory/storage technologies can help to discover new ways to achieve energy-efficient computing,” said Jim Kurose, assistant director of NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). “Partnerships with industry, including SRC and its member companies, are an important way to speed the adoption of these research findings.”

Performance improvements today are limited by energy inefficiencies that result in computing systems overheating and experiencing thermal management issues. The electronic circuits in computer chips still operate far from any fundamental limits to energy efficiency, and much of the energy used by today’s computers is expended moving data between memory and their central processors.

But while the pace of performance increases has slowed, the amount of data users produce is exploding. By 2020, an estimated 44 zettabytes of data (1 zettabyte equals 1 trillion gigabytes) will be created on an annual basis, according to a 2014 IDC study.

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