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Title: PREPARING FOR EXASCALE: ORNL Leadership Computing Application Requirements and Strategy

In 2009 the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS), elicited petascale computational science requirements from leading computational scientists in the international science community. This effort targeted science teams whose projects received large computer allocation awards on OLCF systems. A clear finding of this process was that in order to reach their science goals over the next several years, multiple projects will require computational resources in excess of an order of magnitude more powerful than those currently available. Additionally, for the longer term, next-generation science will require computing platforms of exascale capability in order to reach DOE science objectives over the next decade. It is generally recognized that achieving exascale in the proposed time frame will require disruptive changes in computer hardware and software. Processor hardware will become necessarily heterogeneous and will include accelerator technologies. Software must undergo the concomitant changes needed to extract the available performance from this heterogeneous hardware. This disruption portends to be substantial, not unlike the change to the message passing paradigm in the computational science community over 20 years ago. Since technological disruptions take time tomore » assimilate, we must aggressively embark on this course of change now, to insure that science applications and their underlying programming models are mature and ready when exascale computing arrives. This includes initiation of application readiness efforts to adapt existing codes to heterogeneous architectures, support of relevant software tools, and procurement of next-generation hardware testbeds for porting and testing codes. The 2009 OLCF requirements process identified numerous actions necessary to meet this challenge: (1) Hardware capabilities must be advanced on multiple fronts, including peak flops, node memory capacity, interconnect latency, interconnect bandwidth, and memory bandwidth. (2) Effective parallel programming interfaces must be developed to exploit the power of emerging hardware. (3) Science application teams must now begin to adapt and reformulate application codes to the new hardware and software, typified by hierarchical and disparate layers of compute, memory and concurrency. (4) Algorithm research must be realigned to exploit this hierarchy. (5) When possible, mathematical libraries must be used to encapsulate the required operations in an efficient and useful way. (6) Software tools must be developed to make the new hardware more usable. (7) Science application software must be improved to cope with the increasing complexity of computing systems. (8) Data management efforts must be readied for the larger quantities of data generated by larger, more accurate science models. Requirements elicitation, analysis, validation, and management comprise a difficult and inexact process, particularly in periods of technological change. Nonetheless, the OLCF requirements modeling process is becoming increasingly quantitative and actionable, as the process becomes more developed and mature, and the process this year has identified clear and concrete steps to be taken. This report discloses (1) the fundamental science case driving the need for the next generation of computer hardware, (2) application usage trends that illustrate the science need, (3) application performance characteristics that drive the need for increased hardware capabilities, (4) resource and process requirements that make the development and deployment of science applications on next-generation hardware successful, and (5) summary recommendations for the required next steps within the computer and computational science communities.« less
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  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
KJ0502000; ERKJZN1
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org:
SC USDOE - Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
high performance computing; exascale; petascale; applications requirements