The future suc­cess of super­com­puting lies in the use of accel­er­ated pro­cessing units, said Phil Rogers, a cor­po­rate fellow for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Sun­ny­vale, Calif.-based com­pany that develops com­puter proces­sors for the com­mer­cial and con­sumer sectors.

Our goal is to figure out how to make accel­er­ated pro­cessing units as acces­sible to pro­gram­mers as CPUs are today,” Rogers told more than 50 mem­bers of acad­emia and industry in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater last Thursday for a con­fer­ence on high-​​speed computing.

The conference—which was cospon­sored by AMD, Microway, Qual­comm, Analog Devices and Hewlett-Packard—also fea­tured a poster ses­sion and sev­eral pre­sen­ta­tions by industry leaders and North­eastern fac­ulty, including an analysis of graphics pro­cessing units (GPU) com­puting for 21st cen­tury mate­rials sci­ence by physics pro­fessor Alain Karma.

Rogers, who has devel­oped 3D graphics and par­allel com­pu­ta­tion soft­ware for more than 20 years, gave a detailed overview of his company’s next gen­er­a­tion of graphics archi­tec­ture, which will fuse CPUs and GPUs into a single accel­er­ated pro­cessing unit or APU.

The inte­grated approach, he said, would improve bat­tery life for AMD plat­forms and accel­erate the speed of appli­ca­tions that leverage the pro­gram­ming inter­face OpenCL via the GPU.

Graphics pro­cessing units, which can rapidly manip­u­late com­puter graphics, “bring Hol­ly­wood realism to real-​​time enter­tain­ment,” he said.

Melvin Bern­stein, the senior vice provost for research and grad­uate edu­ca­tion, wel­comed atten­dees to the conference.

North­eastern, he noted, is one of five uni­ver­sity part­ners in the new $168 mil­lion Mass­a­chu­setts Green High Per­for­mance Com­puting Center, a nine-​​acre facility in Holyoke, Mass., which will use high-​​speed com­puters to ana­lyze com­plex sci­en­tific prob­lems, such as the evo­lu­tion of the galaxy.

The facility will be com­pleted in about a year. “The goal is for engi­neers and com­puter sci­en­tists to come together and col­lab­o­rate on solving research prob­lems across dis­ci­plines,” Bern­stein said.

Sopho­more elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering major Neel Shah, who attended the lec­ture, said accel­er­ated pro­cessing units are the future of com­puting tech­nology. “APUs are the next gen­er­a­tion for com­puting because they can do par­allel com­puting faster than a CPU,” he said.