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CHIPS Articles: DOE Announces Argonne National Laboratory Supercomputer for High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence at Exascale

DOE Announces Argonne National Laboratory Supercomputer for High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence at Exascale
By CHIPS Magazine - March 19, 2019
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Perry announced the Energy Department, in partnership with Intel Corporation, will build the first supercomputer with a performance of one exaFLOP in the United States. The system named “Aurora” is being developed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and will be used to “dramatically advance scientific research and discovery. The contract is valued at over $500 million and will be delivered to Argonne National Laboratory by Intel and sub-contractor Cray Computing in 2021,” DOE said in a release.

The Aurora systems’ 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. These breakthrough research projects range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction, and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. DOE said, “the Aurora system will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, furthering the United States’ scientific leadership position globally.”

“Achieving Exascale is imperative not only to better the scientific community, but also to better the lives of everyday Americans,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Aurora and the next-generation of Exascale supercomputers will apply HPC and AI technologies to areas such as cancer research, climate modeling, and veterans’ health treatments. The innovative advancements that will be made with Exascale will have an incredibly significant impact on our society.”

In addition to advancing scientific discoveries in a variety of disciplines, the combination of AI and supercomputing technology will significantly boost economic opportunities in myriad fields, and as a result, US economic security.

According to the DOE, the foundation of the Aurora supercomputer will be new Intel technologies designed specifically for the convergence of artificial intelligence and high performance computing at extreme computing scale. These include a future generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor, a future generation of Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory, Intel’s Xe compute architecture and Intel’s One API software. Aurora will use Cray’s next-generation Shasta family which includes Cray's high performance, scalable switch fabric codenamed “Slingshot.”

“Intel and Cray have a longstanding, successful partnership in building advanced supercomputers, and we are excited to partner with Intel to reach exascale with the Aurora system,” said Pete Ungaro, president and CEO, Cray. “Cray brings industry leading expertise in scalable designs with the new Shasta system and Slingshot interconnect. Combined with Intel’s technology innovations across compute, memory and storage, we are able to deliver to Argonne an unprecedented system for simulation, analytics, and AI.”

For more information about the work being done at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, visit its website.

Aurora is expected to be completed by 2021. Photo by Argonne National Laboratory
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