The Council of Competitiveness on Exascale Supercomputers

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, who has a doctorate from the University at Albany, State University of New York, has developed a focus in supercomputing and technological innovation over the past 25 years. Prior to his current role with Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia was co-chair of the High Performance Computer Advisory Board with the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan organization committed to bringing together scholars and business leaders.

It’s no secret that advanced computing is continually remolding the landscape of the U.S. manufacturing industry, but justifying large investments in advanced technology can be difficult when there is no simple way to quantify return on investment or long-term value. To that end, one of the primary missions of the Council on Competitiveness has been to assess the impact of high-performance computing and how to help businesses effectively utilize this powerful tool.

In a collaborative effort with market intelligence research firm Intersect360, the Council on Competitiveness recently published an in-depth report examining the effects of supercomputing on modern business models. For the past several years, exponential gains in computer speed have closely aligned with Moore’s law—that is, the observation that computer speeds will double approximately every two years—to the point that advanced “petascale” supercomputers have revolutionized research capabilities in energy, pharmaceutical, finance, and various other sectors, but exascale systems (with performance 1,000 times better than today’s petascale systems) are already on the horizon.

However, a pressing question remains: Do today’s businesses even require such advanced systems to perform effectively? According to a comprehensive survey involving more than 100 companies, upward of one-third of representatives believed that such systems could be effectively utilized in as little as five years.

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