Expanding the Vision of High Performance
Computing and Communications:
Linking America for the Future
A Report by
the Computer Systems Policy Project
December 3, 1991
The Computer Systems Policy Project
The Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP) is an affiliation of Chief
Executive Officers of American computer companies that develop, build and
market information processing systems and related software and services.
CSPP was formed in 1989 to provide the CEOs of the industry with a forum to
discuss, develop, and advocate public policy positions on trade and
technology issues critical to the computer systems industry and country.
Additional copies of this report, along with a complementary video, are
available for $20. For more information, please contact:
The Computer Systems Policy Project
1735 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone: (202) 628-1700
Fax: (202) 331-1024
MCI Mail: 4921488 @ MCIMAIL.COM
Table of Contents
Introduction: Linking America for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . .1
HPCCI: Providing the Foundation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
HPCCI: Expanding the Vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Better Health Care and Medical Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Lifelong Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Improved Services for Senior Citizens, the Disabled, and Housebound .6
Enhanced Industrial Design and Intelligent Manufacturing Technology .7
Broad Access to Public and Private Databases, Electronic Mail, and
Other Unique Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Expand the Vision of the HPCCI and Include Research on Generic, Enabling
Technologies to Solve a Wider Range of Grand Challenges . . . . . .9
Establish a Technology and Policy Foundation for an Information and
Communications Infrastructure for the Future. . . . . . . . . . . 11
Improve Management and Governance of the Initiative and
Increase Opportunities for Industry Participation . . . . . . . . 13
Reorder HPCCI Budget Priorities to Achieve a More Balanced Program14
Over the past year, the Computer
Systems Policy Project (CSPP), an affiliation of major U.S. computer
systems companies, has reviewed the Administration's High Performance
Computing and Communications Initiative (HPCCI), as outlined in Grand
Challenges: High Performance Computing and Communications. CSPP believes
the HPCCI is a significant, critical and necessary undertaking by the
government. As currently designed, the HPCCI will advance research in high
performance computing and networking technologies as well as increase the
use of high performance computers to solve a range of scientific and
engineering "Grand Challenges" -- problems whose solutions are critical to
national needs. CSPP believes, however, that the HPCCI can provide the
foundation for something even more important: a new national infrastructure
to promote America's growth in the 21st century and beyond.
Today, high performance computing and high speed networks are being used at
an increasing rate in a wide variety of scientific, engineering, academic,
and business settings. The potential benefits of these technologies,
however, extend far beyond this country's laboratories, universities,
businesses, and supercomputer centers. High performance computing, in
conjunction with widely accessible high-speed networks, offers exciting new
opportunities to improve the quality of life for all Americans.
To make the most of federal and private research investments in the HPCCI,
however, the software, hardware, and networking technologies being
developed must be based on the broadest possible vision of what high
performance computing and communications can make possible in the future.
This requires expanding the current vision of the HPCCI to include Grand
Challenges motivated by social and economic needs in areas of interest to
the government and general public, such as advances in the delivery of
health care and services for senior citizens; improvements in education and
opportunities for lifelong learning; enhanced industrial design and
intelligent manufacturing technologies; and broad access to public and
private databases, electronic mail and other unique resources.
As a major user of computers, the government is appropriately investing in
advanced computer technology research through the HPCCI. By leveraging
these investments, the government can develop more broadly applicable
generic, enabling technologies and stimulate the additional research by the
private sector needed to solve the expanded Grand Challenges.
CSPP strongly believes the HPCCI program will have maximum benefit to the
country only if the government collaborates more closely with industry and
supports the broader vision of the HPCCI; advances the technologies to meet
that vision; and implements a stronger management approach. To accomplish
this, CSPP recommends the following changes to the current initiative:
- Expand the vision of the HPCCI and include research on generic, enabling
technologies to support a wider range of applications;
- Establish a technology and policy foundation for an information and
communications infrastructure for the future;
- Improve management and governance of the initiative and increase
opportunities for industry participation; and
- Reorder HPCCI budget priorities to achieve a more balanced program.
Working together, the government, industry, and the broader science and
technology community can construct an HPCCI program that will contribute to
our nation's ability to meet many of the science, engineering, economic and
social challenges we face. In addition, by cooperating, we can ensure a
better return on the federal R&D investment; promote increased industry
investment; and generate productive collaboration between industry,
academia, and government.
Linking America for the Future
During the growth of the Industrial Age, America built national
transportation links to move people, goods, and raw materials across
increasingly greater distances. Just as these interstate highways were
crucial to our post-war development, national data links are necessary for
growth in the 21st century and beyond. As the United States enters the
Information Age, a new national infrastructure is required.
Today, high performance computing is increasingly used in a wide variety of
scientific, engineering, academic, and business settings. The potential
benefits, however, extend far beyond these current uses. In conjunction
with high-speed networks, high performance computing could be the new
national infrastructure, offering virtually unlimited opportunities to
solve challenges and improve efficiency in ways which directly affect the
lives and well-being of all Americans. Among the opportunities are:
- better health care;
- lifelong learning;
- improved services for senior citizens, the disabled, and the housebound;
- enhanced industrial design and intelligent manufacturing technology; and
- broad access to public and private databases, electronic mail, and other
Realizing these opportunities requires harnessing the collective energy,
talents, and unique resources of industry, academia, the general public,
and the federal government. By enhancing the ability of all Americans to
better communicate, share resources and exchange information, the HPCCI can
promote a new national infrastructure -- potentially the most powerful tool
our nation has ever had to bolster its international economic position and
long-term national well-being.
Over the last nine months, the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP), an
affiliation of chief executives of twelve leading American computer
companies, has begun to define this broader vision of high performance
computing and communications. If followed, the recommendations offered in
this report could help establish the new national infrastructure that would
bring the benefits of high performance computing and communications to
Providing the Foundation
In February, 1991, as part of its budget submission to Congress, the Bush
Administration released Grand Challenges: High Performance Computing and
Communications, summarizing its High Performance Computing and
Communications Initiative (HPCCI), a cross-agency research program on
computing and networking technologies. The HPCCI is designed to advance
research in high performance computing and networking technologies as well
as increase the use of high performance computers to solve a range of
scientific and engineering "Grand Challenges" -- problems whose solutions
are critical to national needs.
CSPP fully supports the goals of the HPCCI and the Administration's program
described in Grand Challenges, and commends the Administration for its
leadership in designing this important initiative. Similarly, CSPP
commends Congress for funding the initiative in Fiscal Year 1992, and for
recent legislation that would establish a high performance computing
program and National Research and Education Network.
In addition to helping the U.S. maintain its worldwide lead in high
performance computing, the HPCCI will lead to specific critical
developments in areas such as:
- improving the accuracy of weather forecasts;
- identifying and analyzing cancer-causing genes;
- finding new ways to reduce air pollution; and
- increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines.
Just as important, however, the HPCCI has the potential to benefit the
nation much more broadly by driving important advancements in technologies
and policies that will make possible a wide range of future high
performance computing and communications applications.
Expanding the Vision
CSPP believes expanding the vision of HPCCI to include a more comprehensive
view of what HPCCI technologies can make possible in the future will
increase the return on the research investments made in the program. This
requires that the HPCCI program include additional Grand Challenges to
supplement those already identified by the Administration. Basing federal
and private research in software, hardware, and networking technologies on
the broadest possible vision will make the most of the foundation provided
by the current HPCCI.
CSPP firmly believes that the best means to advance the long-term goals of
the HPCCI is for all America to become captivated by the possibilities.
The following pages provide just a few examples of what an expanded HPCCI
could make possible.
BETTER HEALTH CARE AND MEDICAL SERVICES
- Patients will be linked directly to computers that will not only monitor
medical data, but will continuously transmit that information for
rapid analysis and ongoing diagnosis by remote experts.
- Interactive video coupled with high capacity networks will deliver
medical care, including consultations and diagnoses, to populations
without easy access to state of the art medical care and equipment.
Besides improving the accuracy of diagnoses, this could reduce the
cost of providing medical care throughout the United States by
permitting more efficient use of expensive equipment.
- Doctors, patients, and hospitals will be able to confer and consult with
specialists in distant cities, sharing high definition video images,
audio transmissions, and statistical data from several sources as
- Students will have easy access comprehensive remote databases providing
information such as historical and forecasted weather data for their
localities. They will be able to compare it with data they collect
themselves, analyze the accuracy of predictions, and compare it with
data collected by students in other parts of the country through
interactive video conferences.
- At home or at school, a student doing research for a homework assignment
on Shakespeare will be able to access the Folger Shakespeare Library
in Washington, D.C. and consult with experts at the Library of
Congress. Portions of plays will be available in video through
multimedia information resources.
- Students will take realistic "video field-trips" to Amazon rain
forests and Saharan deserts without leaving their classrooms.
- "Lifelong learning" will be a reality through high resolution
interactive video. Schools and businesses will design adult
education and training classes tailored to each individual's
needs which will be available regardless of a person's schedule.
IMPROVED SERVICES FOR SENIOR CITIZENS,
THE DISABLED, AND HOUSEBOUND
- Through advances in speech recognition and other remote control
mechanisms, senior citizens, the disabled, and housebound, will
become more independent by having access to services and activities
that are currently not available to them.
- Enhanced multimedia technology, in conjunction with high performance
computers and communications, will enable personal and direct
interaction with friends and family in distant places, as well as
with health care professionals and social service providers.
- More direct access to critical government services will also be
available, as will health monitoring systems enabling help to be
sent quickly and automatically in the event of an emergency.
ENHANCED INDUSTRIAL DESIGN AND INTELLIGENT
- Industries will use high performance computing for advanced design,
simulation, and testing. This will be particularly beneficial in
manufacturing, including sheet-metal forming, rolling, welding, and
casting; emissions control technologies; engine design; light
materials design; and pharmaceutical design.
- High performance computers and networks will enhance capabilities in
distributed manufacturing, including just-in-time manufacturing,
automated inventory control and resupply, and scheduling; concurrent
design, engineering, and manufacturing.
- The availability of high performance computing and communications in
conjunction with sophisticated databases of important government
information, will enable small and large manufacturing companies to
quickly conduct automated patent searches and apply for patents
electronically, significantly speeding the current process.
BROAD ACCESS TO PUBLIC AND PRIVATE DATABASES, ELECTRONIC MAIL, AND OTHER
- A farmer in South Dakota will be able to easily access the latest crop
predictions and satellite soil analyses from the Department of
Agriculture, and long-range weather forecasts from the Department of
Commerce, enabling adjustment of planting and harvesting plans.
- A small business owner will be able to respond electronically to a
government request for proposal on a contract, receive more rapid
feedback on the proposal, and track the award of contracts, enabling
instant identification of subcontracting opportunities.
- Individuals will have immediate access to legislative proposals and will
be able to provide their legislators with instant electronic
feedback on specific bills.
- With government information available and easily accessible on line,
individuals who live near waste dump sites will be able to conduct
searches of Environmental Protection Agency data to find out whether
the waste is toxic and what actions are being taken to clean it up.
Expand the Vision of the HPCCI and Include Research on
Generic, Enabling Technologies To Solve a
Wider Range of Grand Challenges
To expand the vision of the HPCCI, federal agencies, such as the Departments
of Education, Health and Human Services, and Commerce, should work with
industry to identify additional Grand Challenges in social and economic
areas of direct interest to the government, such as those described on
the previous pages.
To make the new vision a reality, the HPCCI must include research on the
generic, enabling technologies and the computing and communications
architectures needed to enable a wide variety of applications. These
include technologies needed for development of open, scalable platforms
and systems, from high performance workstations to parallel vector,
heterogeneous and massively parallel systems. The current HPCCI will
address a range of technologies, including, for example, the following:
- new computer architectures that will permit high-capacity information
- advanced microelectronic technologies, including packaging;
- compression and decompression techniques;
- broadband networks and protocols;
- improved techniques for mass data storage and retrieval to permit
storage of complex images;
- improved technologies and algorithms for accessing large databases;
- innovative user interface technologies;
- new algorithms for massively parallel machines, heterogeneous computers
and workstations, and other platforms and applications;
- advanced database technology, including tools and services to tie
together the users, the applications, the systems technology and
the operating systems; and
- enhanced multimedia technologies and capabilities.
These technologies, while useful in solving the science and engineering
Grand Challenges, can help to do more. The national investment in the
HPCCI research program can be enhanced by designing it in such a way that
the technologies also support solving the additional social and economic
CSPP companies are already pursuing these and other necessary technologies
individually. Moreover, we are prepared to invest in collaborative work
with the government. In fact, we are developing a computer industry model
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Department
of Energy designed to increase industry/laboratory interaction.
Throughout implementation of the program, it is critical that the
government collaborate with both the user and computer systems industries
to be sure the HPCCI research and development priorities will support the
development of the hardware, software and networking tools needed to
solve the expanded Grand Challenges. It is equally critical that new
insights, knowledge, and technology developments generated by the HPCCI
be quickly transferred to the private sector for actual development,
production, and deployment.
CSPP also urges that the Library of Congress and the many government
agencies that generate and maintain large amounts of useful information be
included in the HPCCI to help lay the research foundation for a National
Digital Library. The participation of agencies such as the departments of
Agriculture, Transportation, Interior, and the Environmental Protection
Agency, for example, is necessary to most efficiently develop the
technologies needed to make databases easily accessible over a network.
Establish a Technology and Policy Foundation for an
Information and Communications Infrastructure for the Future
Developing the most efficient, effective and broad-reaching
communications and information infrastructure for the future requires
that near-term research and policy decisions be made with an eye toward
the long-term. As it is described in Grand Challenges, the National
Research and Education Network (NREN) will provide a basic infrastructure
for research and education. However, the NREN offers the foundation for
something broader and more exciting.
Through an expanded HPCCI research agenda, there is an opportunity to lay
the technology and policy foundation to support a much more comprehensive
electronic communications and information infrastructure. Such an
infrastructure, to be developed and deployed by the private sector, will
consist of a number of interconnected networks that will not only connect
research hubs across the country, but will bring educational, health,
social, business, and entertainment services to households, schools,
hospitals, and offices across the United States. This "network of
networks" will provide all Americans with access to unique resources,
public and private databases, and other individuals throughout the
To make this possible, government and industry must work together to address
1. NETWORK POLICY CONSIDERATIONS -- As a broad communications and
information infrastructure develops, many important policy and
network management issues will need to be addressed, including,
- how to ensure security and privacy of widely accessible networks and the
communications transmitted over them, including methods for ensuring
privacy of data and files identifiable to individuals;
- protection of copyright licensing and royalty rights;
- allocation of radio and broadcast spectrum for networking purposes;
- the role of the FCC with respect to networks; and
- how to develop and implement flexible and fair standards applicable to
CSPP urges the Administration to ensure the HPCCI serves as a stepping
stone to a broader future information infrastructure by beginning to address
these and other network-related issues now. This will require expanding the
activities under the NREN component of the HPCCI to include research and
development on the technologies needed to support broadly accessible and
2. ENSURING NETWORK INTEROPERABILITY -- The future information
infrastructure is expected to be a network of today's many separate
regional, local, private, and public networks. To be able to send
information around such a network of networks, each must connect
physically and logically with the others, a concept known as
To ensure interoperability, the multitude of commercial and research
networks in the U.S. and around the world must be built on a harmonized set
of coding schemes and protocols. Because government policies and programs
will have a significant effect on the protocols used in future networks,
they must be coordinated to meet the goal of network interoperability.
3. ENSURING BROADEST POSSIBLE ACCESS -- In the past, the federal
government has been the sole convener and principal funding source for
research and education networks. Today and into the future, however, more
and more of the funding for these and other networks, even experimental
networks, will come from the private sector.
While market forces must be allowed to operate to assure full competition
in the provision of networks and services, an expanded HPCCI must include a
plan for ensuring the widest possible access to the infrastructure as
existing networks are upgraded and broadened. The federal government should
also work with foreign governments to ensure equitable access and use of
foreign networks, as well as the ability of U.S. information providers to
Improve Management and Governance of the Initiative and
Increase Opportunities for Industry Participation
CSPP is concerned that the current HPCCI management approach is not strong
enough to guarantee effective results. In particular, it does not take
sufficient advantage of existing industry expertise in implementing similar
The HPCCI is a complex project which is being undertaken by at least eight
federal agencies, each with separate needs for high performance computing
and networking activities. With the exception of the National Science
Foundation, the agencies are focused primarily on pursuing agency missions
and objectives. At this time, there is no unified vision of the HPCCI or any
ultimate point of responsibility for ensuring the overall program goals are
If the HPCCI is to move forward effectively and efficiently, CSPP believes
there must be explicit coordination and accountability, as well as a clear
mechanism, which draws on industry expertise, to coordinate, manage and
govern the implementation of the initiative. CSPP is willing to work with
the government to help identify an appropriate lead body within the
Executive Branch that would:
- develop and support a national vision for the HPCCI;
- develop a coordinated research and public policy agenda designed to make
the national vision for HPCCI a reality;
- identify the government's role in accomplishing and overseeing the
vision and the necessary computing and communications architecture;
- develop a set of measures and checkpoints against which progress toward
the ultimate goals of the initiative can be measured;
- develop a mechanism to ensure that industry, academia, and other parties
with expertise to offer can interact with the government and directly
contribute to the design and implementation of the HPCCI; and
- develop a system to ensure the efficient transfer of government-
developed technology under the HPCCI to the private sector for
product development and application.
CSPP is particularly interested in working with the government to ensure
close and continuing involvement with user industries and the computer and
Reorder HPCCI Budget Priorities
to Achieve a More Balanced Program
Following a series of meetings and interviews with the relevant agencies,
CSPP has concluded that in general, the research planned under the HPCCI
will address the technology areas needed to lay the foundation for a
world-class high performance computing and communications infrastructure.
However, CSPP believes, in addition to broadening the vision for the HPCCI
as described on the previous pages, the following shifts in current
priorities will maximize the relevance of the program to both the government
and the private sector, thereby increasing the likelihood that the program's
overall goals will be successfully achieved in the near future.
- First, the focus of the HPCCI research should include research on
multiple high performance hardware and software configurations, across
a broad performance range. In other words, the program should balance
research on massively parallel architectures with development and
application of other high performance computing tools including open,
scalable platforms and systems, from high performance workstations to
parallel vector, heterogeneous and massively parallel systems.
- Second, the proposed budget, especially the Advanced Software Technology
and Algorithms subcomponent, includes relatively large expenditures on
equipment and facilities in addition to software research activities.
CSPP recommends that the Administration investigate whether the
proportion of funds allocated to software research can be increased,
perhaps by using or improving existing facilities.
- Third, CSPP considers the activities planned under the Basic Research
and Human Resources (BRHR) component crucial to the success of the
HPCCI. OMB and the participating agencies must ensure these
activities are also given high priority. Without trained personnel
and a basic research infrastructure, none of the advances made in the
other three program components can be successfully implemented or
- Finally, successfully achieving the goals of the HPCCI will require a
balance between advancing key technologies and applying those
technologies to solve complex problems affecting our society. These
problems cannot be solved, nor the benefits distributed, without leaps
in a broad range of technologies. However, planned HPCCI activities
seem to focus on advancing key computer technologies, while applying
and disseminating the technologies to solve critical problems is given
a secondary role. CSPP recommends balancing these two goals to ensure
both are adequately addressed.