As we are entering the Petascale era – today all top 10 fastest supercomputers have already demonstrated sustained Petaflop performance (as listed on the TOP500 list, http://www.top500.org/, and you can find some nice articles around it on www.InsideHPC.com), more and more funding are allocated or directed toward technology development for the next phase – the Exascale.
In the TOP500 there are two groups of systems. One group is the proprietary high-end systems (Cray, Blue Gene, K etc.) with a limited usage only at the top of the list. These of systems are not in the reach of the rest of the HPC community and their vendors might show dependency on special funding programs in order to exist. A second group that has systems from the top 10 till the last 100 entries on the TOP500 is the standard based solutions group (x86, with or without GPUs, InfiniBand or Ethernet connected). Within the standard group, we can see that Ethernet is being used mainly for the low end systems and InfiniBand is being used for the entire range of the TOP500 list.
Having a standard based solution that can be used from the top supercomputers till the small, workgroup or departmental-class HPC systems is critical to maintain affordable HPC. A broad use of technology makes it cost effective and in the reach of the entire community. I embrace all the new developments around the standard based solutions and am calling the government funding organizations to support these activities as much as possible. Not having a standard based Exascale solution will cause the Exascale systems to be too expensive to build.