High-Performance Computing Critical to U.S. Innovation, Competitiveness

Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 3:30pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

From curing diseases and making passenger jets safer to improving weather forecasts and developing new advanced manufacturing techniques, high-performance computing (HPC) enables countless breakthroughs that keep America strong, safe, competitive, and at the leading edge of innovation. A new report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) examines the many critical applications of HPC and calls on Congress and the Administration to advance policies that support it.


HPC uses supercomputers and advanced processing techniques to solve complex computational problems at blinding speeds through computer modeling, simulation, and data analysis. The ITIF report highlights a range of specific examples showing how HPC solves problems in the real world, including the following:

• “[HPC tools] allow GM’s engineers to simulate crash tests from every angle, testing restraint and airbag performance and even running digitalized pedestrian impact scenarios to improve pedestrian safety.”

• “Supercomputer models are playing a key role in the design of more energy-efficient buildings … The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster … is leveraging HPC to develop integrated end-to-end code for simulating building fluid/thermal flows.”

• “The Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri … has been using HPC to help save the lives of critically ill children … For one infant suffering from liver failure, the center used 25 hours of supercomputer time to analyze 120 billion nucleotide sequences and narrowed the cause of the illness down to two possible genetic variants. Thanks to this highly accurate diagnosis, the baby is alive and well today.”

While the United States is currently the world’s leading adopter and developer of HPC systems, China, the European Union, Japan, and others have made significant investments in supercomputing technology in recent years. Without swift and determined action by policymakers to help advance HPC technology, the United States risks falling behind.

Last July, President Obama issued an executive order launching a new supercomputing research initiative called the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), which aims to maintain and strengthen U.S. leadership in cutting-edge computing technology. The NSCI calls for government, industry, and academia to collaborate on research, development, and deployment of HPC. The executive order also highlights the need for research to advance semiconductor technology and to develop future technologies.

SIA supports the NSCI and has long advocated for increased federal investments in basic scientific research to complement industry-funded R&D. Policymakers should support these initiatives to advance high-performance computing and boost U.S. competitiveness and technology leadership.