by Wen-mei Hwu

The rapid acceptance of GPUs in high performance computing (HPC) is nothing short of spectacular. I’m hard-pressed to think of another technology that computational researchers have embraced with excitement and passion in such short order. And it’s fundamentally driven by an insatiable demand for faster, cheaper and more power-efficient computing.

Three of the top five spots in the Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers are now powered by NVIDIA GPUs. And, later this year, two of the world’s most powerful GPU-powered supercomputers – Titan at Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee and Blue Waters at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications – will come online. They will allow scientists to accelerate their scientific research to a whole new level.

As a principal investigator for the Blue Waters project, I have been working with these teams of scientist to help them leverage GPUs in their applications. Likeminded scientists, engineers and developers from over 40 different countries will flock to San Jose next month for the GPU Technology Conference (GTC), and I’ll be one of them.

If you haven’t decided whether or not to attend GTC yet, let me give you five reasons why I’m attending GTC this year, and why you should, too.

  1. Meet some of the best minds in research
    Amazing things can happen when you bring thousands of the brightest scientists and engineers together. The latest techniques are shared. New ideas are born. Friendships are made. Every year, I look forward to GTC because I know it will make a significant impact on my own research.
  2. Learn from hundreds of hours of scientific content and cutting-edge research
    Want to learn how Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is using GPUs for drug development? Want to hear how Sandia National Labs is discovering new biofuels using GPUs?  GTC is all about GPU computing and there’s something for everyone.
  3. The surprise factor
    NVIDIA always has something up their sleeves to surprise us at GTC. Two years ago, NVIDIA launched its Fermi architecture. Last year, NVIDIA revealed its roadmap for Kepler and Maxwell.  How will NVIDIA surprise us this time?
  4. Experience the GPU computing movement
    It’s an eye-opening experience to see how quickly GPU computing has influenced such a broad base of research disciplines. And, in just two years, GTC has become one of the largest HPC conferences in the world.
  5. Take a break from research… in California
    I have to admit, being in the San Francisco Bay Area during the springtime doesn’t hurt. Enough said.

I hope to see you at GTC 2012.

Guest author Wen-mei W. Hwu is the Walter J. (“Jerry”) Sanders III-Advanced Micro Devices Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Coordinated Science Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Hwu received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

[Image credit: Owen Byrne]