The Landscape of Exascale Research: A Data-Driven Literature Analysis

Stijn Heldens, Pieter Hijma, Ben Van Werkhoven, Jason Maassen, Adam S.Z. Belloum, Rob V. Van Nieuwpoort

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The next generation of supercomputers will break the exascale barrier. Soon we will have systems capable of at least one quintillion (billion billion) floating-point operations per second (1018 FLOPS). Tremendous amounts of work have been invested into identifying and overcoming the challenges of the exascale era. In this work, we present an overview of these efforts and provide insight into the important trends, developments, and exciting research opportunities in exascale computing. We use a three-stage approach in which we (1) discuss various exascale landmark studies, (2) use data-driven techniques to analyze the large collection of related literature, and (3) discuss eight research areas in depth based on influential articles. Overall, we observe that great advancements have been made in tackling the two primary exascale challenges: energy efficiency and fault tolerance. However, as we look forward, we still foresee two major concerns: the lack of suitable programming tools and the growing gap between processor performance and data bandwidth (i.e., memory, storage, networks). Although we will certainly reach exascale soon, without additional research, these issues could potentially limit the applicability of exascale computing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalACM Computing Surveys
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • data-driven analysis
  • Exascale computing
  • extreme-scale computing
  • high-performance computing
  • literature review


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