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Latest News

Study Reveals HPC Software Is Soft Spot in U.S. Competitiveness Armor
Posted by Kenneth Farmer, Monday April 03 2006 @ 11:57PM EDT

WASHINGTON, D.C.--April 3, 2006--The Council on Competitiveness, a national organization of business, academic and labor executives, today released the second part of a study that reveals that the lack of scalable application software is preventing many companies from using high performance computing (HPC) more aggressively for competitive advantage. Part B of the Council on Competitiveness Study of ISVs Serving the High Performance Computing Market concludes that major U.S. industries often cannot get the application software they need to drive innovation and global competitiveness. Both parts of the pioneering study were sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and conducted by leading market research firm IDC.

Part A of this study revealed that the independent software vendor (ISV) business model for developing advanced application software for HPC has nearly evaporated, and that ISVs must focus most of their software development of the broader commercial market.

"This study demonstrates that the lack of production quality HPC application software is a soft spot in the competitiveness armor of the U.S." said Council on Competitiveness President Deborah L. Wince-Smith. "When U.S. industries can not obtain the application software they want and need, innovation is stymied and competitiveness is compromised. Fortunately, we are finding that most ISVs and a substantial portion of U.S. businesses are willing to partner with each other, as well as universities and national laboratories to speed progress in addressing this challenge."

"Part B: End User Perspectives" directly surveyed a select group of highly experienced HPC users in U.S. businesses, representing a wide range of industries, from defense to entertainment to consumer products. The study revealed the U.S. business requirements for advanced HPC application software, and the financial and technical obstacles blocking firms from obtaining it. The perspectives given by these experienced users echoed many of the findings from the Council's recently released software workshop report "Accelerating Innovation for Competitive Advantage: The Need for HPC Application Software Solutions."

A comparison of the key findings from Parts A and B is found in the following chart. The findings reveal the need for more aggressive use of HPC in American business and the current plans ISVs have to meet these needs. The limitations of HPC-specific ISV application software are not the only barrier to fuller exploitation of HPC but are regularly cited by industrial end users as the most important constraint.

Study Part A: Current ISV Market Dynamics Study Part B: HPC End Users' Perspectives
The business model for HPC-specific application software has all but evaporated in the last decade. HPC-specific ISV application software is indispensable for U.S. industrial competitiveness.
ISV applications can exploit only a fraction of the problem-solving power of today's high-performance computers. Virtually all of the firms said they have larger problems that they can't solve today.
For many applications, the ISVs know how to improve scalability but have no plans to do so because the HPC market is too small to justify the R&D investment. The lack of scalable application software is preventing many industrial users from using HPC more aggressively for competitive advantage.
There is a lack of readiness among ISV suppliers for petascale systems. Three-quarters of the U.S. firms could benefit from a petascale computer system.
Market forces alone will not address the gap between HPC users' needs and ISV software capabilities. Market forces alone will not address the gap between HPC users' needs and ISV software capabilities.
Most ISVs would be willing to partner with outside parties to accelerate application software development. Nearly half the firms would be willing to partner with outside parties to accelerate application software development.

Source: Council on Competitiveness Study of ISVs Serving the High Performance Computing Market - Part B: End User Perspectives. IDC 2006

The complete Council on Competitiveness Study of ISVs Serving the High Performance Computing Market, Parts A and B, is available at http://www.compete.org/hpc . The workshop report,"Accelerating Innovation for Competitive Advantage: The Need for HPC Application Software Solutions," is also available at http://www.compete.org/hpc

High Performance Computing Initiative

The Council's High Performance Computing Initiative has galvanized a dialogue among government agencies, system and software developers and private sector users of high performance computing to leverage government R&D investment in this technology and facilitate wider usage across the private sector to propel innovation and competitiveness. For more information on the Council's High Performance Computing Initiative and its annual HPC Users Conference please visit http://www.compete.org/hpc

About The Council on Competitiveness

An organization of the top business, university and labor leaders in the United States, the Council on Competitiveness is responsible for influencing the course of American competitiveness on regional, national and global scales. The Council stands unique in its ability to anticipate and respond to changing economic conditions through a series of comprehensive programs to maintain competitiveness and security, support innovation, benchmark national competitiveness and shape public policy. Information about the Council is available on the Web at http://www.compete.org

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