"*Exascale is also different because unlike previous milestones, it is unlikely that we will face yet another one in the future.* These words may be thrown back in my face, but I think we will never reach zettaflops, at least not by doing discrete floating point operations. We are reaching the anvil of the technology S-curve and will be approaching an asymptote of single program performance due to a combination of factors including atomic granularity at nanoscale.
"Of course I anticipate something else will be devised that is beyond my imagination, perhaps something akin to quantum computing, metaphoric computing, or biological computing. But whatever it is, it won’t be what we’ve been doing for the last seven decades. That is another unique aspect of the exascale milestone and activity. For a number, I’m guessing about 64 exaflops to be the limit, depending on the amount of pain we are prepared to tolerate."
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As supercomputing makes its way through the petascale era, the future of the technology has never seemed so uncertain. HPC veteran Thomas Sterling takes us through some of the most critical developmen…