• The U.S. Department of Energy has released a request for proposals for at least two next-generation exascale supercomputers. Credit: dlohner/Pixabay
     The U.S. Department of Energy has released a request for proposals for at least two next-generation exascale supercomputers. Credit: dlohner/Pixabay

DOE Seeks Exascale Supercomputers

April 9, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
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The systems should come online in 2021.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry today announced a request for proposals potentially worth up to $1.8 billion for the development of at least two new exascale supercomputers, to be deployed at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories in the 2021-2023 timeframe. Among other benefits, the systems will help nuclear security, a major piece of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The new supercomputers will be follow-on systems to the first U.S. exascale system authorized this past June, named Aurora, which is currently under development at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and scheduled to come online in 2021. The request for proposals announced today also envisions the possibility of upgrades or even a follow-on system to Aurora in 2022-2023, depending on an assessment of needs and opportunities at that time.

This request for proposals calls for a system to be deployed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and for another to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

The systems will build out U.S. exascale capabilities and help sustain the country’s global leadership position in the field of high-performance computing, a position that is under challenge in an increasingly competitive international environment, DOE officials said in a published announcement

The new systems will provide 50 to 100 times greater performance than the current fastest U.S. supercomputer. They will enable breakthroughs in both science and industry through modeling and simulation, high-performance data analysis, and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. Potential examples include: evaluating options for nuclear security; identifying next-generation materials; deciphering high-energy physics data; combating cancer; and accelerating industrial product design and reducing cost-to-market.        

The request for proposals, the product of a collaboration among the three laboratories known as CORAL—the Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Livermore—provides an opportunity for U.S. industry to develop at least two new unique system designs, each with a possible cost range of $400-$600 million, with a possibility of a third system with a similar or wholly different design from each of the previous two. Future amounts are subject to congressional appropriations.

The request for proposals is being managed for CORAL by UT-Battelle LLC, which operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory on behalf of the Department of Energy.

Funding is being provided jointly by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The Office of Science and NNSA are also partners in the Department’s Exascale Computing Project, which is responsible for research and development efforts to accelerate application development, software technology, and hardware and integration for exascale systems.

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