Imagine Tomorrow

Conference Keynote

ISC 2023 Conference Keynote Daniel Reed


Presidential Professor in Computational Science
University of Utah



Monday, May 22 from 9:15-10:15am


Our current model for configuring, procuring, and constructing leading edge HPC systems is predicated on a vibrant commercial computing market whose interests and products align with scientific computing needs.  Alas, this model is increasingly problematic. Not only has our current approach yielded systems that deliver only small percentages of the potential hardware performance on complex, multidisciplinary applications, but the underlying technical and market conditions have also changed.

First, the PC ecosystem that birthed the “attack of the killer micros” and today’s large-scale HPC clusters is increasingly stagnant, which is in stark contrast to the rapid growth and hardware innovation that is taking place in the hyperscaler cloud and AI markets. Meanwhile, reflecting the technical and financial challenges of a post-Moore environment, the semiconductor industry is shifting rapidly to multiple chip packaging – chiplets that integrate multiple, heterogeneous chips via a high-bandwidth interconnect and package.  Finally, AI advances are reshaping how we think about the nature of scientific computation and how we pursue scientific breakthroughs via hybrid computations and data analytics.

Simply put, the scientific computing world now lacks the financial leverage to dictate HPC product specifications at the very high end. The leading edge HPC market is too small, the procurements are too infrequent, the funding is too small, and the financial risk to vendors is too high, while the size and scale of the hyperscaler and deep learning markets are too large to ignore. The message is clear. We must again adapt, just as we did during the transitions from vector systems and shared memory parallel processors.  Despite the challenges, there are promising ways forward, and this talk will discuss a few possible directions.


Daniel A. Reed is the Presidential Professor in Computational Science at the University of Utah, where he previously served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost). He has served in a variety of senior academic and industry roles, including as Vice President for Research and the University of Iowa and as Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Technology Policy and Extreme Computing. Before joining Microsoft, he was the founding director of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. Dr. Reed is currently chair of the U.S. National Science Board (NSB), which provides oversight for the U.S. National Science Foundation. He has served as a member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the U.S. President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC). Dr. Reed was the past chair of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association (CRA), which represents PhD-granting computer science departments in North America. As chair of CRA, he was one of the co-founders of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and was responsible for envisioning new ideas on computing research. Dr. Reed is a Fellow of the ACM, the IEEE, and the AAAS. He received his B.S. from Missouri University of Science and Technology and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Purdue University, all in computer science.


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