El Capitan 1.5 Exaflop Supercomputer Will Arrive Late in 2022

The Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) today announced the signing of contracts with Cray Inc. to build the NNSA’s first exascale supercomputer, “El Capitan.” El Capitan will have a peak performance of more than 1.5 exaflops (1.5 quintillion calculations per second) and an anticipated delivery in late 2022. The total contract award is valued at $600 million.

Featuring advanced capabilities for modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence (AI), based on Cray’s new Shasta architecture, El Capitan is projected to run national nuclear security applications at more than 50 times the speed of LLNL’s Sequoia system. Depending on the application, El Capitan will run roughly 10 times faster on average than LLNL’s Sierra system, currently the world’s second most powerful supercomputer at 125 petaflops of peak performance. Projected to be at least four times more energy efficient than Sierra, El Capitan is expected to go into production by late 2023, servicing the needs of NNSA’s Tri-Laboratory community: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

El Capitan will be DOE’s third exascale-class supercomputer, following Argonne National Laboratory’s “Aurora” and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Frontier” system. All three DOE exascale supercomputers will be built by Cray utilizing their Shasta architecture, Slingshot interconnect and new software platform.

“The Department of Energy is the world leader in supercomputing and El Capitan is a critical addition to our next-generation systems,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “El Capitan’s advanced capabilities for modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence will help push America’s competitive edge in energy and national security, allow us to ask tougher questions, solve greater challenges and develop better solutions for generations to come.”

Exascale performance will be delivered by a heterogeneous Central Processing Unit (CPU)/Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) architecture. This architecture will allow researchers to run exploratory 3D simulations at resolutions that are currently unobtainable and ensembles of 3D calculations at resolutions that are difficult, time-consuming or even impossible using today’s state-of-the art supercomputers. 3D simulations are becoming essential to meet the unprecedented demands of the NNSA Life Extension Programs (LEPs) and address nuclear weapon aging issues for which researchers have no nuclear test data.

El Capitan will be built on Cray’s Shasta supercomputing architecture and will be comprised of Shasta compute nodes and a future generation of ClusterStor storage. This unique architecture will be connected with Cray’s new Slingshot high-speed interconnect. The Shasta hardware and software architecture can accommodate a variety of processors and accelerators, making it possible for Cray and LLNL to work together in the coming months to finalize the decision on which processor and GPU components will be used at the node level to maximize performance for the enormous projected workloads. The platform also will utilize Cray’s new system and analytics software stack, which will deliver the scalability and flexibility needed for exascale computing. It also will enable the converged use of modeling, simulation and AI in support of the Lab’s research missions.

SOURCES- Livermore National Labs
Written By Alvin Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

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