Yesterday, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative. This new initiative is to ensure the United States’ continued leadership position in High-Performance Computing in the coming decades. As the announcement from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) says, “this coordinated research, development, and deployment strategy will draw on the strengths of departments and agencies to move the Federal government into a position that sharpens, develops, and streamlines a wide range of new 21st century applications.” The initiative is designed to, “advance core technologies to solve difficult computational problems and foster increase use of new capabilities in the public and private sectors.”
The announcement includes examples of the type of problems and potential research areas that this strategy can tackle. From the Precision Medicine Initiative to exascale computing at DOE, the potential for High-Performance Computing is almost limitless. Combined with the fact that advances in computing are helping to drive advancements in other scientific fields, this strategy could be similar to the Larry Smarr moment in the early 1980s, when NSFnet, one of the predecessors of the Internet, was established.
How is this likely to be received in Congress? It’s hard to tell, as Congress and the Administration have been at loggerheads over almost every political issue. That being the case, there is a good chance this Initiative will be received positively; long time readers will remember that the first two hearings the House Science Committee had this session were on HPC. This was done deliberately to educate new members of the committee on the field’s importance to the Federal scientific ecosystem.
In closing out this article, I want to quote the last paragraph of OSTP’s announcement, as it is quite concise as to the importance of this strategy, and HPC as a whole, to the country:
By strategically investing now, we can prepare for increasing computing demands and emerging technological challenges, building the foundation for sustained U.S. leadership for decades to come, while also expanding the role of high-performance computing to address the pressing challenges faced across many sectors.