Probably the single most important trend in high-performance computing in the quarter century from 1985 to 2010 isn't a flashy architectural technique, it is commoditization - assembling petaflop computing systems out of commodity processing elements.  In a sense, this brings together all the architectural trends of 20th century high performance computing:  High-end personal computer/server processors from Intel and AMD, as well as the IBM Cell architecture, developed for consumer game platforms, exploit the architectural techniques of pipelining, storage hierarchies, SIMD processing, instruction-level parallelism, and speculative execution. These processors are then integrated into massively parallel arrays by supercomputer companies whose value added now resides entirely in interconnection technology and massively parallel software tools.

Back to Architectural Themes Index