NRC issues report on the High-End Capability Computing

October 24, 2008

The National Research Council has issued a preliminary version of a report titled The Potential Impact of High-End Capability Computing on Four Illustrative Fields of Science and Engineering. The report results from a study of four fields astrophysics, atmospheric science, evolutionary biology, and chemical separations to seek examples where major scientific challenges depend on high end computing capability (HECC). HECC is defined in the report as advanced computing that pushes the bounds of what is computationally feasible.

Among the finding of the report are several observations. One such observation is that only a small fraction of currently used algorithms are capable of scaling up to large numbers of processors. This means that algorithms, software, and models are needed to advance capability. The report gives some discipline-specific examples of needs algorithms and methods.

Another common observation is that managing and exploiting massive amounts of data is a major challenge requiring new methods computing capability in order to advance scientific research.

A major theme of this report is that computational science and engineering (CS&E) is a complex enterprise requiring new models, algorithms, software, hardware, facilities, education and training. A new generation of researchers, trained in CS&E, is needed to advance CS&E itself as well as the scientific disciplines that rely on High-End Capability Computing.

The draft report, subject to NRC revision, is available at

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