What is exascale

Exa : greek ἕξ, six
International unit prefix = 1000⁶ = (10³)⁶ = 10¹⁸
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 = billion billion = quintillion

High Performance Computing is a strategic instrument to advance scientific excellence, help humanity solve its hardest problems, and sustain industry competitiveness.
By 2020 performances are forecast to be extreme, in the range of Exascale.

The invention of computers has enabled to process data and solve problems at increased speed and complexity. Such speed is measured in floating point per second, in short “flops”.
From the 70’s until now, 2015, the computing capacity has raised from about 100 million flops to petaflops (10¹⁵).  In the last decade, the computational demand has tremendously increased with the advent of scientific discoveries, data volume generation, and complexity. This requires a new generation of computers made of millions of heterogeneous cores.

What order of magnitude? Exascale refers to thousand fold increase over current computing capacity: computers will be capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per second, 10¹⁸ floating point operations per second.

What does extreme mean? Exascale computing power is believed to be the order of processing power of the human brain at neural level. It is also what we need to count each of the known sextillion stars of the universe in 20 minutes.

Exascale computing will be a significant achievement in computer engineering, implying outstanding technological breakthrough both in computations and in software.