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University of Maryland
Exascale Systems Research: Overview of Our Work (and FAQ)

Bruce Jacob - email address - http://www.ece.umd.edu/~blj/

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Overview: Spring 2015

Moving to exascale, i.e., building a 1 exa-FLOPS computing system (equivalent to 1,000,000 TFLOPS or 1,000 PFLOPS), is limited by how efficiently one can perform a staggeringly large number of operations. It is not really a question of "can we build a machine that executes this many operations per second?" but rather "can we build one and afford to power it?"

The power levels for existing supercomputers are barely tolerated, as high as they are, and so a 1 EFLOPS machine tomorrow must not dissipate significantly more power than today's low-double-digit PFLOPS machines, which dissipate on the order of 10 MW. This leads to necessary conditions for exascale that are challenging -- such as approaching 1 TFLOPS per Watt at the CPU or core level, and the ability to build a 1-10 PFLOPS rack that dissipates 10-100 kW. For perspective, typical CPUs today execute at roughly 0.01 TFLOPS per Watt, and typical cabinets (racks) today dissipate on the order of 100 kW to produce roughly 0.1 PFLOPS of execution.

The desire for more performance, more capacity, more bandwidth is ever-present, and yet it is clear that scaling current system-design techniques -- i.e., simply doing more of the same -- will not provide the benefits at affordable costs, especially since the desired goals (more performance, more capacity, more bandwidth) will have to be delivered at no cost. For perspectivve, the system architectures used in many of today's datacenters, enterprise computing systems, and supercomputers, suffer from significant limitations:

We have been developing system and node architectures that address all of these issues and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a brief list of the types of questions we get asked the most often.

Questions asked by people in industry:

Questions asked by students and people in academia:

Interested? Talk to us.

Contact Information

Prof. Bruce Jacob - email address -

Traditional correspondence can be sent to

Prof. Bruce Jacob
Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

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