Indiana University (IU) created CREST in 2011 as part of the Pervasive Technology Institute to pioneer research at the frontiers of exascale computing. Two of supercomputing's foremost thinkers, Andrew Lumsdaine and Thomas Sterling, both professors in the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington, lead CREST as director and associate director, respectively. Thomas Sterling also serves as CREST chief scientist.
The grant will fund CREST researchers to create a class of software that enables supercomputers to run intelligently. "We're writing software that moves execution from static to dynamic, allowing supercomputers to use new information as it is being revealed", stated Thomas Sterling. "By doing so, supercomputers will 'think' about how they use their resources, as well as where and when they schedule various concurrent tasks."
As an analogy, Thomas Sterling noted the difference between a cannon and guided missile - the missile makes minute adjustments during flight in order to more accurately hit the target. "Essentially, we're building a guided computer", stated Thomas Sterling. "Our goal is to completely redesign the system software in order to produce a revolutionary class of supercomputers. It is exciting that IU will be at the forefront of such research, setting future directions for exascale computing and programming."
How fast is this next generation of supercomputers? Consider this: Today's fastest supercomputers perform about 10 quadrillion (one million billion) operations per second. By 2020, experts predict that exascale computers will perform one quintillion (one billion billion) calculations per second. However, it is not just speed that interests IU researchers - they are ultimately seeking to change how supercomputing works.
"This grant allows us to help scientists and engineers run their software across millions of processors", stated Andrew Lumsdaine. "It's exciting to be able to advance next-generation supercomputing while supporting research into solutions for civilization's biggest issues."
Led by Sandia in partnership with IU, the XPRESS project involves eight academic and government institutions. Thomas Sterling is the project's chief scientist, while Andrew Lumsdaine is principal investigator on IU's portion of the grant.