Intel and the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) is aiming to deliver the world’s first exascale supercomputer by the year 2021.
The system, called Aurora, will be developed at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. The project is estimates to be valued at half a billion dollars.
Currently the fastest supercomputers in the world operate at the petascale level. A petascale supercomputer is capable of performing operations per second at 1015 or one Petaflop.
However, Exascale-level systems can compute a billion billion calculations a second or a thousand raised to the power of six (1018) operations per second, which is more than 150 Petaflops.
Intel Exscale Supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory Director Paul Kearns commented in a release that: “Argonne’s Aurora system is built for next-generation artificial intelligence and will accelerate scientific discovery by combining high-performance computing and artificial intelligence to address real world problems.”
The system will help to solve problems: “Such as improving extreme weather forecasting, accelerating medical treatments, mapping the human brain, developing new materials and further understanding the universe – and that is just the beginning,” Kearns stated.
The project will see Intel and Seattle-based supercomputer manufacture Cray Inc collaborate to deliver the system. Cray Inc will bring their next-generation supercomputer systems nicknamed ‘Shasta’ to the project. Cray Inc system contains over 200 cabinets and Shasta software stack optimized for Intel architecture.
Summit The World’s Fastest Supercomputer (So Far)
The Summit supercomputer was developed and build by IBM, Nvida and Mellannox, following a United States Department of Energy contract award of $325 million in 2014. Located in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the state of Tennessee, Summit itself occupies the space equivalent to two tennis or basketball courts.
It is now considered the fastest computer in the world capable of 200 petaflops of computational power. One petaflop is equivalent to a quadrillion floating-point operations per second or a thousand trillion.
The Summit Supercomputer is powered in part by 27,648 NVIDIA Volta Tensor Core GPUs capable of performing three exaops or 3 billion billion (extra billion not a typo) calculations per second. Tesla Volta V100 GPUs contain 21.1 billion transistors placed over just 815mm2 of silicon.
Commenting on the collaboration between the Intel and the DOE U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said: “Aurora and the next generation of exascale supercomputers will apply HPC and AI technologies to areas such as cancer research, climate modeling and veterans’ health treatments. The innovative advancements that will be made with exascale will have an incredibly significant impact on our society.”