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Getting up to Speed the Future of Supercomputing
Conclusion: Government must bear primary responsibility for maintaining the flow of resources that guarantees access to the custom systems it needs. While an appropriate strategy will leverage developments in the commercial computing marketplace, the government must routinely plan for developing what the commercial marketplace will not, and it must budget the necessary funds.
For a variety of reasons, the government has not always done a good job in its stewardship role. Predictability and continuity are important prerequisites for enhancing supercomputing performance for use in applications. Unstable government funding and a near-term planning focus can result in (and have resulted in) high transition costs, limiting the exploitation of supercomputing advances for many applications. Uneven and unpredictable acquisition patterns have meant fewer industrial suppliers of hardware and software, as companies have closed or moved into other areas of computing. Insufficient investment in long-term basic R&D and in research access to supercomputers has eroded opportunities to make major progress in the technical challenges facing supercomputing.
Conclusion: The government has lost opportunities for important advances in applications using supercomputing, in supercomputing technology, and in ensuring an adequate supply of supercomputing ecosystems in the future. Instability of long-term funding and uncertainty in policies have been the main contributors to this loss.
Taken together, the conclusions reached from this study lead to an overall recommendation:
Overall Recommendation: To meet the current and future needs of the United States, the government agencies that depend on supercomputing, together with the U.S. Congress, need to take primary responsibility for accelerating advances in supercomputing and ensuring that there are multiple strong domestic suppliers of both hardware and software.
The government is the primary user of supercomputing. Government-funded research is pushing the frontiers of knowledge and bringing important societal benefits. Advances in supercomputing must be accelerated to maintain U.S. military superiority, to achieve the goals of stockpile stewardship, and to maintain national security. Continued advances in supercomputing are also vital for a host of scientific advancements in biology, climate, economics, energy, material science, medicine, physics,