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New Consortium to Tackle Challenge of Adapting Scientific Applications to Hybrid Multicore Systems

Oak Ridge, Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos national laboratories to pool high-end computing expertise with Georgia Tech, Swiss university

November 18, 2009

Berkeley Lab Contact: Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov, 510-501-2230

PORTLAND, Oregon—While hybrid multicore technologies will be a critical component in future high-end computing systems, most of today's scientific applications will require a significant re-engineering effort to take advantage of the resources provided by these systems. To address this challenge, three U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, including the Berkeley Lab, and two leading universities have formed the Hybrid Multicore Consortium, or HMC, and held their first meeting at SC09.

The consortium leadership comprises Oak Ridge (ORNL), Lawrence Berkeley (LBNL) and Los Alamos (LANL) national laboratories, all of which are leaders in R&D in this arena, as well as providers of large-scale computational resources for the scientific community. Other members are the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), two of the leading universities in the area of architecture and software research for hybrid multicore systems.

While multicore systems — using chips with multiple cores on each — are becoming more common, future designs are expected to soon feature hundreds of thousands or even millions of threads of parallelism. At the same time, large vendors are designing hybrid systems which combine multicore processors with other processors and/or accelerators to improve overall performance. Such systems will provide unprecedented computing power, but most of today's leading scientific applications will have to be re-engineered to run on these hybrid architectures.

The goal of HMC is to address the migration of existing applications to accelerator-based systems and thereby maximize the investments in these systems. Research areas expected to benefit from these advances include climate change, alternative energy sources, astrophysics, materials design, and environmental remediation, among others.

The main focus of the consortium will be on identifying obstacles to making emerging, large-scale systems based on accelerator technologies production-ready for high-end scientific calculations. While the consortium will maintain a long-term perspective (hybrid multicore systems), the initial focus is on overcoming the obstacles associated with near-term systems. The long-term goal is to advance the state of the art and application of hybrid multicore computing capabilities to current and future integrated applications. The consortium will facilitate the sharing of best practices and the development of the processes and technologies needed to support accelerator based platforms. Membership is open to the public.

Approach and Organization

The consortium will assemble and maintain a roadmap documenting the current state of the art and the gaps that need to be filled to make large-scale systems that incorporate significant accelerator technologies ready for production use. This roadmap will be developed and reviewed by the broad community of developers and vendors (both hardware and software), users (computational scientists) and educators who have a vested interest in the deployment of large-scale hybrid multicore systems.

"By reflecting the needs of the community, we will present a unified vision that can be used to influence emerging standards and motivate the research and development projects needed to improve both hardware and the associated software development tools," said ORNL's Barney Maccabe, head of technical oversight for the consortium.

To foster interactions within the community and provide members opportunities to communicate successes and lessons learned, the consortium will host annual, open workshops and host a web site at http://computing.ornl.gov/HMC that will serve as a clearinghouse for information related to hybrid multicore architectures.

The consortium is organized in four technical areas, with a Technical Committee (TC) to oversee each area: Applications and Libraries (AL), Programming Models (PM), Architecture and Metrics (AM), and Performance and Analysis (PA).

The HMC will be managed by an organizing committee responsible for planning and organizing the activities of the consortium, including the annual workshop, the roadmap and the hosted web site. For more information, go to: http://computing.ornl.gov/HMC.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

High performance computing plays a critical role in scientific discovery. Researchers increasingly rely on advances in computer science, mathematics, computational science, data science, and large-scale computing and networking to increase our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and our universe. Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Area researches, develops, and deploys new foundations, tools, and technologies to meet these needs and to advance research across a broad range of scientific disciplines.