How much should an Exaflop cost?


The point of this post is to shed some light of the many orders of magnitude difference between the cost of today’s supercomputers and the best case raw cost of silicon processing. Please take the article with a truckload of salt. Real supercomputers include a lot more than just refined silicon. The interesting question is how much wasteful overhead we could remove from a supercomputer without really affecting its usefulness?!

• Adapteva’s Epiphany E16G301 processor runs at 1GH and delivers 32GFLOPS
• The silicon area of the E16G301 chip is 12mm^2
• Wafers are 300mm^2 in diameter

• 65nm pricing of $2,500/wafer (hypothetical)
• 90% yield

Given the above parameters, the raw cost of 1 Exaflop is $15M in 2012. This is 1/675th the cost of a $10B virtual exaflop machine consisting of 100 state of the art 10 Petaflop machines at an estimated $100M a pop and it could be built today.

Andreas Olofsson is the founder of Adapteva and the creator of the Epiphany architecture and Parallella Kickstarted open source computing project. Follow Andreas on Twitter.