The U.S. Department of Energy has inked a deal with Cray, Inc., to build “the world’s most powerful computer.”
Scheduled for delivery to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2021, the Frontier supercomputer promises a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops (faster than the current lineup of petaflop-level machines).
The system, based on Cray’s new Shasta architecture and Slingshot interconnect, will feature high-performance AMD technology—and a price tag of more than $600 million.
“Frontier’s record-breaking performance will ensure our country’s ability to lead the world in science that improves the lives and economic prosperity of all Americans and the entire world,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a statement.
By solving calculations up to 50 times faster than today’s top supercomputers, the next-gen machine will enable breakthroughs in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security, according to the DOE.
Following the leading AI system Summit, deployed at ORNL in 2018, Frontier also provides new inroads to deep learning, machine learning, and data analytics for everything from manufacturing to human health.
“Frontier will accelerate innovation in AI by giving American researchers world-class data and computing resources to ensure the next great inventions are made in the United States,” Perry said.
Tennessee-based ORNL is home to several of the world’s top supercomputers, including reigning champion Summit, which currently sits at No. 1 in the world, with a performance of 143.5 petaflops.
“Summit is allowing us to do work that was science fiction a year ago, and we expect to see similar leaps with the extreme speed of Frontier, which will make new science possible that we can’t do today,” Dan Jacobson, chief scientist for computational systems biology at ORNL, explained.
Titan, a Cray XK7 installed at Oak Ridge—and previously the most powerful supercomputer in the US—is now ranked ninth by the TOP500, achieving 17.6 petaflops.
“ORNL’s vision is to sustain the nation’s preeminence in science and technology by developing and deploying leadership computing for research and innovation at an unprecedented scale,” lab director Thomas Zacharia said. “Frontier follows the well-established computing path charted by ORNL and its partners that will provide the research community with an exascale system ready for science on day one.”