[Beowulf] K Computer built for speed, not use

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Wed Oct 10 21:37:57 PDT 2012


> Any general purpose system will inevitably underperform for some people,
>and many might argue that the art of managing such a project is making sure
>everyone squawks equally loud about how the stake is being driven into their
>heart.

I think of it from the other direction: a specialized machine would need 
to demonstrate really significant savings.  an astrophysics machine might 
actually use many times fewer transistors than a commodity processors
(as one of Makino's slides shows), but could it do anything else?  perhaps
some forms of MD.  but making transistors work harder is, today, not 
necessarily a winning strategy, since managing heat is probably the 
dominant concern.

if a domain somehow looks like it's on the verge of a breakthrough,
and specialized hardware is going to give a 100x advantage, well,
that sounds pretty good.  if a dedicated cosmology box is going to bring
only a 3x speedup and still be 1e6 away from resolving important processes,
well, I say "get in line for a general-purpose account"...

though this argument also hinges somewhat on the expectation of 
demand being bursty _across_ domains.

regards, mark hahn.


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