PathForward: US Dept. of Energy Awards $258M in Research Contracts To Develop Exascale Supercomputer Technology

PathForward: US Dept. of Energy Awards $258M in Research Contracts To Develop Exascale Supercomputer Technology

Even though the major US national laboratories are just now starting to take delivery of the supercomputers they ordered a few years back, due to the long and complex development process for these projects, the US Department of Energy(DOE) has already been focusing on the next round of supercomputers for the next decade. Under the Exascale Computing Project, the DOE expects to develop & order one (and in the end, likely several) exaFLOPS-capable supercomputers, 50 times more powerful than the generation of supercomputers being installed now.

A long-term project expected to take several years altogether, the Department of Energy and its laboratories have already been working on it for nearly two years now, slowly building towards ordering the final computer. To that end, today the project is taking its next step forward with the announcement that the DOE is awarding $258 million in research contracts to six of the US’s leading technology companies.

At a high level, the significance of this project is more than just supplying an exascale system: a major goal of the project is to figure out how to build such a system. Researchers have known for some time that traditional supercomputing paradigms won’t scale very well to exaFLOPS-level performance, as power efficiency, reliability, and interconnect performance would all struggle at those performance levels. As a result, to get the exascale systems the DOE ultimately would like to have – and to get those systems in a timely fashion to ensure US leadership in the field of supercomputing – it has taken a greater role in the research and development of the required technologies under the PathForward program.

To that end, today the department is announcing that it is awarding a total of $258 million in R&D contracts to major US technology firms to help spur them to develop the necessary technologies. These contracts will be going to a veritable who’s who of major US tech firms: AMD, Cray, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, and NVIDIA. All told, the participating companies will be working over a three year contract period, with the respective firms kicking in their own money – to the tune of at least 40% of the project cost – to help develop the technologies needed to build an exascale computer for 2021.

Overall, the DOE’s R&D program is intended to spur development in three areas: hardware, software, and application development. Hardware is of course the biggest issue: how do you build processors energy efficient enough to do 1 exaFLOPS of work in under 3

PathForward: US Dept. of Energy Awards $258M in Research Contracts To Develop Exascale Supercomputer Technology

13 months ago - 10:06 AM EST - Thu, Jun 15, 2017

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