OpenSHMEM 2015

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Thomas Sterling

Eight Unquestioned Assumptions Blocking SHMEM Exascale Computing

The extraordinary momentum of Moore's Law has advanced HPC to the Petaflops performance regime even as this exponential progress of the enabling technologies is asymptotically flat-lining near the nanometer threshold. However HPC system architecture and programming models have struggled to keep up with increasingly complicated heterogeneous structures and multi-layered programming methods imposed on the user community. While SHMEM models convey unifying principles to return to efficient and scalable computing, a number of underlying assumptions that go unquestioned continue to force likely first generation exascale HPC to an increasingly limited form. In part these include restrictions of the commercial market, legacy codes, irrelevant benchmarking, and a culture of evolutionary incrementalism. Among the consequences of this lemming like community-wide approach are reduced generality, lack of performance portability, poorer efficiency, and degraded user productivity. This presentation will make explicit eight unquestioned assumptions permeating the conventional HPC trajectory and describe alternative advances based on the ParalleX execution model that will make possible the opportunities of future SHMEM exascale computing.


Dr. Thomas Sterling holds the position of Professor of Informatics and Computing at the Indiana University (IU) School of Informatics and Computing as well as serves as Chief Scientist and Executive Associate Director of the Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies (CREST). Since receiving his Ph.D from MIT in 1984 as a Hertz Fellow Dr. Sterling has engaged in applied research in fields associated with parallel computing system structures, semantics, and operation in industry, government labs, and academia. Dr. Sterling is best known as the "father of Beowulf" for his pioneering research in commodity/Linux cluster computing. He was awarded the Gordon Bell Prize in 1997 with his collaborators for this work. He was the PI of the HTMT Project sponsored by NSF, DARPA, NSA, and NASA to explore advanced technologies and their implication for high-end system architectures. Other research projects included the DARPA DIVA PIM architecture project with USC-ISI, the Cray Cascade Petaflops architecture project sponsored by the DARPA HPCS Program, and the Gilgamesh high-density computing project at NASA JPL. Thomas Sterling is currently engaged in research associated with the innovative ParalleX execution model for extreme scale computing to establish the foundation principles to guide the co-design for the development of future generation Exascale computing systems. ParalleX is currently the conceptual centerpiece of the XPRESS project as part of the DOE X-stack program and has been demonstrated in proof-of-concept in the HPX-5 runtime system software. Dr. Sterling is the co-author of six books and holds six patents. He was the recipient of the 2013 Vanguard Award and is a Fellow of the AAAS.