8 May 1998: Link to report
5 May 1998
U. S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of Export Administration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 4, 1998
Washington, D.C. -- Commerce Assistant Secretary Roger Majak and Dave Tarbell, director of the Defense Technology Security Administration at the Defense Department announced the release of a long-awaited study, High-performance Computing, National Security Applications, and Export Control Policy at the Close of the 20th Century, by Dr. Seymour E. Goodman, Dr. Peter Wolcott and Dr. Patrick Homer. The study has been prepared as part of President Clinton's decision in 1993 to periodically assess U.S. computer export controls. Today's study provides an important contribution to the government's understanding of technology trends in the computer industry and national security uses for high performance computers.
The study finds that technology is evolving at an astounding rate in the HPC industry, rapidly increasing the performance of computers at all levels. Key findings include: 1) advancements in microprocessor performance which have brought down the costs of HPCs and reduced their size; 2) improvements in interconnect devices which have permitted a greater range of products to enter the market and helped to make high-performance power more accessible and affordable; 3) more open system architectures that contribute to enhanced scalability; and 4) the ability to network the computing power of smaller systems to find solutions to large computational problems.
All of these advancements create challenges for export controls on HPCs. In particular, there is growing availability of ever more powerful computers in the world marketplace. The market for HPCs is flourishing worldwide with many new and used systems for sale through mail order and third party distribution systems. The study points out that determining what computing levels can be controlled depends on factors such as dependence on vendor support, the growing diversity of computer architectures and the scalability of computer systems.
An earlier study published by Dr. Goodman and his associates issued in 1995 predicted that computers with speeds of over 2,000 MTOPS would be widely available in commercial markets by 1997. Those predictions have proved correct. This new study will be an important reference point for the Administration's continuing review of computer controls.