DOE opens bids for exascale computers, 1 at ORNL

Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the Department of Energy is accepting proposals worth up to $1.8 billion for the development of at least two new exascale supercomputers to be deployed between 2021 and 2023.

The project is part of a national goal to build the world’s first exascale computer by 2021.

The new request for proposals hints at DOE’s intent to develop not one exascale computer, but two or three, at a cost range of $400 to $600 million each.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will house the first system, and another will be deployed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

“These new systems represent the next generation in supercomputing and will be critical tools both for our nation’s scientists and for U.S. industry,” Perry said. “They will help ensure America’s continued leadership in the vital area of high-performance computing, which is an essential element of our national security, prosperity and competitiveness as a nation.”

Systems selected from the pool of proposals will help the United States remain a world leader in high-performance computing for science and industry, a position that is under challenge in an increasingly competitive international environment.

ORNL’s Titan Supercomputer dropped to fourth in the world last year, as China and Switzerland have developed more powerful supercomputers.

The lab is installing its next step in supercomputing, Summit, which will be about five to 11 times more powerful than Titan, and may make the United States the world leader in computing capability again.

The exascale computers expected in the early 2020s will allow calculations at about 50 times Titan’s current speed, enabling breakthroughs in both science and industry through advanced modeling and simulation, data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brittany Crocker

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Published April 20, 2018