US DOE To Employ Intel Xe GPU Tech For First Exascale Supercomputer

US looks to Intel to help it win the supercomputer wars

The Aurora system is scheduled to be delivered to the DOE's Argonne National Laboratory in 2021, which will likely arrive after similar projects in China are expected to emerge in 2020.

The Aurora system's exaFLOP of performance - equal to a "quintillion" floating point computations per second - combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale.

Intel said on Monday that it would build the US's most powerful supercomputer, so fast that it could process 1 quintillion - 1 billion times 1 billion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 - calculations per second.

There's no telling how long Aurora will reign among the world's supercomputers. The United States led the field for decades, but China has become an aggressive rival.

There has always been a race between countries for bragging rights over who has the most powerful supercomputer.

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And apparently, this $500m+ supercomputer undertaking isn't just the US and Intel showing off, as US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry reckons all the power is needed. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. But the stakes associated with the shift to exascale systems, and their enormous price tags, have attracted outsize attention.

Intel and Cray are expected to deliver Aurora to the DOE, at a cost of approx $500 million, sometime during 2021. But additional accelerator chips are considered essential to reach the very highest speeds, and its rival Nvidia has built a sizable business adapting chips first used with video games for use in supercomputers. Drawing on more than 45 years of experience, Cray develops the world's most advanced supercomputers, pushing the boundaries of performance, efficiency and scalability. The Argonne system, named Aurora, will be comprised of more than 200 Shasta cabinets, Cray's unique software stack optimized for Intel architectures and the Cray Slingshot™ interconnect, as well as next generation Intel technology innovations in compute processor, memory and storage technologies.

Aurora will also stimulate efforts to design the technologies of tomorrow, pinpointing materials with the properties needed to build stronger batteries, solar panels that more efficiently convert light to energy, and quantum computers.

"We want to make exascale computing available to everyone", said Raja M. Koduri, senior vice president of Intel's core and visual computing group.

"The CANDLE team is excited to unleash Aurora's full capability to help humanity in ways impossible before", said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life sciences at Argonne, professor of computer science at UChicago and principal investigator on CANDLE.

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