US Dept of Energy Awards $258 Million for Exascale supercomputing

six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation’s first exascale supercomputers.

The awardees will receive funding for research and development to maximize the energy efficiency and overall performance of future large-scale supercomputers, which are critical for U.S. leadership in areas such as national security, manufacturing, industrial competitiveness, and energy and earth sciences. The $258 million in funding will be allocated over a three-year contract period, with companies providing additional funding amounting to at least 40 percent of their total project cost, bringing the total investment to at least $430 million.

Companies receiving the awards are:

· Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
· Cray Inc. (CRAY)
· Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
· International Business Machines (IBM)
· Intel Corp. (Intel)

The Department’s funding for this program is supporting R and D in three areas – hardware technology, software technology, and application development – with the intention of delivering at least one exascale-capable system by 2021.

Exascale systems will be at least 50 times faster than the nation’s most powerful computers today, and global competition for this technological dominance is fierce. While the U.S. has five of the 10 fastest computers in the world, its most powerful – the Titan system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory – ranks third behind two systems in China. However, the U.S. retains global leadership in the actual application of high performance computing to national security, industry, and science.

One researcher working on the project said that the original goal was to deliver an exascale system in 2023 that would consume about 20 MW. Bringing the date in two years may result in loosening the power limit to 30 MW, he said.

Meanwhile, China is building three prototypes for exascale systems that it will demonstrate later this year, said Jack Dongarra, a professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee and co-author of the Top 500 list.