The Inquirer: THE CRÈME de la Crème of this planet’s High-Performance-Computers (HPC) is listed in the Top500 list of supercomputers, updated twice a year. Although some systems use thousands of processors, the HPC segment accounts for just a one per cent CPU market share - but its mindshare is far greater.
Before Top500 was initiated in 1993, Supercomputing was perceived as being of significant importance for scientific competitiveness. In these times the market developed dynamics of a race between nations to have the fastest Computer and between global industry players to have their names on it, showering warm rains of generous funds over the architects of these machines and their teams in academia and industry. In the nineties that all changed: Dramatic agency cuts hit the segment and even forced Cray out of the business.
Supercomputing nowadays is often considered as the Formula 1 Series of Computing, for its mindshare on the one hand and its usefulness to develop technologies with potential to arrive in the volume segments of the business on the other hand. The fact that "Earth Simulator" is now entering its third racing season from the pole-position of the series shows clearly that the focus of supercomputing is shifting from sheer maximisation of computing power towards other scales. This year's 19th International Supercomputer Conference focused on the question of what those scales are and how the community can successfully meet them.