Reinventing HPC

Wednesday Keynote 2022

Thomas Sterling

Prof. Thomas Sterling

Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering
School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering
Indiana University


HPC Achievement and Impact – 2022
(Wednesday, June 1)

After a difficult period of 3 years of separation, we again convene in person at the International Supercomputing Conference and here to bring this forum to a conclusion. On behalf of the world-wide family of high performance computing experts, vendors, application developers, technology engineers, and all those in industry, government, and academia who rely on this superior class of computing diversity and capability to accomplish their respective missions, I acknowledge the major accomplishment of sustaining the successful series of ISC bridging the recent gap of time and place.

But this period of apparent dormancy and especially throughout the last year, the supercomputing community has been anything but sedentary. Indeed, 2022 may be the year of great expectation; the year of the achievement of Exaflops Rmax by one or more platforms. While the specifics are as yet to be clarified at this time of writing, at least one such machine has been announced at the Frontier to be deployed in this calendar year with the possibility of multiple unprecedented system structures and hosting nations. And yet, in a sense we are almost there with the world flagship capability already in place in Kobe, Japan which is at Exascale, if not Exaflops, for operations directly associated with data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence; with a major contribution attacking Covid virus. But these are only the perimeter of our deeper and vibrant planet-wide industry.

For even as HPC moves forward, it has moved more expansively. It is a time to pause and in the new light of post-Covid reemergence, HPC is in a sense of new definition. At its summit, are in the distance further peaks of greater accomplishment rapidly approaching. This presentation in the closing minutes of the conference will ask the question: now that we are here, where are we and in what direction must we advance. On the one hand are the challenges recognized for some time of the end of Moore’s Law, the barrier of nano-scale technology, supply chain disruption, and great obstacles of cost, energy, and security. Within these sobering contexts are the expansive opportunities beyond pure numeric problems (e.g., simulation, molecular dynamics) in the expansive domains of knowledge dominated problem solving including but not limited to supervised machine learning and data analytics.

At the horizon can be viewed through the mists of uncertainty to range of machine intelligence, even machine understanding to address society’s greatest challenges including those of urgent concern. This closing keynote will ask the question: “What is HPC?” now and in the far future. An answer may allude us, but the highly dimensional space of exciting considerations as well as controversies can be examined.



Prof. Thomas Sterling is a Full Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering at Indiana University (IU) serving as Director of the AI Computing Systems Laboratory at IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Since receiving his Ph.D from MIT as a Hertz Fellow in 1984, Dr. Sterling has engaged in applied research in parallel computing system structures, semantics, and operation in industry, government labs, and academia. Professional affiliations have included Harris Corp., IDA Supercomputing Research Center, NASA (GSFC, JPL), Un. of Maryland, Caltech, and LSU. Dr. Sterling is best known as the "father of Beowulf" for his pioneering research in commodity/Linux cluster computing for which he shared the Gordon Bell Prize in 1997. His current research is associated with innovative extreme scale computing through memory-centric non von Neumann architecture concepts to accelerate dynamic graph processing for AI including ML. In 2018, he co-founded the new tech company, Simultac LLC, and serves as its President and Chief Scientist. Dr. Sterling was the recipient of the 2013 Vanguard Award and is a Fellow of the AAAS. He has been selected this year to be inducted in the Space Technologies Hall of Fame. He is the co-author of seven books and holds six patents. Most recently, he co-authored the introductory textbook, “High Performance Computing”, published by Morgan-Kaufmann in 2018 which is going into 2nd edition.

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