High Performance Computing Hearing
You may recall that Senator John Ensign (R-NV) promised a hearing on high performance computing back in May while passing innovation legislation out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This morning the Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness held a hearing on high performance computing that Sen. Ensign, the subcommittee chair, and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) engaged in. Sen. Ensign acknowledged that he had little knowledge of high performance computing but asked questions and seemed very interested in what policies could help keep the US in a leadership position in the field. The seven witnesses all discussed the importance of high performance computing and the need for government funding to continue and increase to keep a competitive edge. Formal testimony is available online and a web cast should be available in a few days.
Everyone at the hearing tied the advances in high performance computing to Americas competitiveness. One example was when Michael Garrett of Boeing said that the companys ability to meet its performance goals was due, in part, to high performance computing and that had allowed it an edge over competitors in Europe. A couple of the witnesses put great emphasis on networking in high performance computing as opposed to hardware or even software. At the end of the meeting Sen. Ensign asked if Congress needs to direct NIH on how to spend money to get it to invest in high performance computing. Dr. Stanley Burt of the Advanced Biomedical Computing Center said Congress should do so and that collaboration and cross training of scientists is needed for the future of scientific research in biology using high performance computing. Burt said computational biology needs to get to the level that computational physics is currently at as a field.