HPX - High Performance ParalleX


Technology Demands New Response

Today's computer systems are designed based on the initial ideas of John von Neumann, as published back in 1945, and later extended by the Harvard architecture. These ideas form the foundation, the execution model of computer systems we use currently. But apparently a new response is required in the light of the demands created by today's technology.

So, what are the overarching objectives for designing systems allowing for applications to scale as they should? In our opinion, the main objectives are:

What needs to be done to meet those objectives, to make applications scale better on tomorrow's architectures? Well, the answer is almost obvious: we need to devise a new execution model - a set of governing principles for the holistic design of future systems - targeted at minimizing the effect of the outlined SLOW factors. Everything we create for future systems, every design decision we make, every criteria we apply, has to be validated against this single, uniform metric. This includes changes in the hardware architecture we prevalently use today, and it certainly involves new ways of writing software, starting from the operating system, runtime system, compilers, and at the application level. However the key point is that all those layers have to be co-designed, they are interdependent and cannot be seen as separate facets. The systems we have today have been evolving for over 50 years now. All layers function in a certain way relying on the other layers to do so as well. However, we do not have the time to wait for a coherent system to evolve for another 50 years. The new paradigms are needed now - therefore, co-design is the key.