NVIDIA CEO Jen Hsun Huang said during his keynote at SC11 that he believes disruptive technologies like the GPU are important steps towards the creation of exascale computing:
With supercomputing already an essential tool in modern science, Huang said the industry’s work in the space was “vitally important to society and the advancement of culture,” but that reaching exascale was something of an innovator’s dilemma.
The dilemma, theorized by last year’s SC keynote speaker Clayton Christenson, claims disruptive technologies are not initially deemed valuable to the markets they eventually serve, and therefore face an uphill battle for acceptance. GPUs, argued Huang, are just such a disruptive technology, with their roots as graphics engines invented specifically for teenage gamers.
As the market grew, however, GPUs found utility first in workstations and recently as accelerators in some of the world’s fastest supercomputers.