From ECP via LLNL: “On the Path to the Nation’s First Exascale Supercomputers: PathForward”

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory




Department of Energy Awards Six Research Contracts Totaling $258 Million to Accelerate U.S. Supercomputing Technology.

Today U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation’s first exascale supercomputers.

The awardees will receive funding for research and development to maximize the energy efficiency and overall performance of future large-scale supercomputers, which are critical for U.S. leadership in areas such as national security, manufacturing, industrial competitiveness, and energy and earth sciences. The $258 million in funding will be allocated over a three-year contract period, with companies providing additional funding amounting to at least 40 percent of their total project cost, bringing the total investment to at least $430 million.

“Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation,” said Secretary Perry.

“These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing—exascale-capable systems.”

“The PathForward program is critical to the ECP’s co-design process, which brings together expertise from diverse sources to address the four key challenges: parallelism, memory and storage, reliability and energy consumption,” ECP Director Paul Messina said. “The work funded by PathForward will include development of innovative memory architectures, higher-speed interconnects, improved reliability systems, and approaches for increasing computing power without prohibitive increases in energy demand. It is essential that private industry play a role in this work going forward: advances in computer hardware and architecture will contribute to meeting all four challenges.”

The following U.S. technology companies are the award recipients:

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Cray Inc. (CRAY)
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
International Business Machines (IBM)
Intel Corp. (Intel)

The Department’s funding for this program is supporting R&D in three areas—hardware technology, software technology, and application development—with the intention of delivering at least one exascale-capable system by 2021.

Exascale systems will be at least 50 times faster than the nation’s most powerful computers today, and global competition for this technological dominance is fierce. While the U.S. has five of the 10 fastest computers in the world, its most powerful — the Titan system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory — ranks third behind two systems in China. However, the U.S. retains global leadership in the actual application of high performance computing to national security, industry, and science.

Additional information and attributed quotes from the vendors receiving the PathForward funding can be found here [See below].

[It is this writer’s opinion that none of this funding should be necessary. These are all for-profit companies which have noting to do but gain from their own investments in this work.]

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

Sunnyvale, California

“AMD is excited to extend its long-term computing partnership with the U.S. Government in its PathForward program for exascale computing. We are thrilled to see AMD’s unique blend of high-performance computing and graphics technologies drive the industry forward and enable breakthroughs like exascale computing. This technology collaboration will drive outstanding performance and power-efficiency on applications ranging from scientific computing to machine learning and data analytics. As part of PathForward, AMD will explore processors, memory architectures, and high-speed interconnects to improve the performance, power-efficiency, and programmability of exascale systems. This effort emphasizes an open, standards-based approach to heterogeneous computing as well as co-design with the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) teams to foster innovation and achieve the Department of Energy’s goals for capable exascale systems.”

— Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO

Cray Inc. (CRAY)

Seattle, Washington

“At Cray, our focus is on innovation and advancing supercomputing technologies that allow customers to solve their most demanding scientific, engineering, and data-intensive problems. We are honored to play an important role in the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project, as we collaboratively explore new advances in system and node technology and architectures. By pursuing improvements in sustained performance, power efficiency, scalability, and reliability, the ECP’s PathForward program will help make significant advancements towards exascale computing.”

— Peter Ungaro, president and CEO

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)

Palo Alto, California

“The U.S. Department of Energy has selected HPE to rethink the fundamental architecture of supercomputers to make exascale computing a reality. This is strong validation of our vision, strategy and execution capabilities as a systems company with deep expertise in Memory-Driven Computing, VLSI, photonics, non-volatile memory, software and systems design. Once operational, these systems will help our customers to accelerate research and development in science and technology.”

— Mike Vildibill, vice president, Advanced Technology Programs

Intel Corp. (INTEL)

Santa Clara, California

“Intel is investing to offer a balanced portfolio of products for high performance computing that are essential to not only achieving Exascale class computing, but also to drive breakthrough capability across the entire ecosystem. This research with the US Department of Energy focused on advanced computing and I/O technologies will accelerate the deployment of leading HPC solutions that contribute to scientific discovery for economic and societal benefits for the United States and people around the world. These gains will impact many application domains and be realized in traditional high performance simulations as well as data analytics and the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence.”

— Al Gara, Intel Fellow, Data Center Group Chief Architect, Exascale Systems

International Business Machines (IBM)

Armonk, New York

“IBM has a roadmap for future Data Centric Systems to deliver enterprise-strength cloud services and on-premise mission-critical application performance for our customers. We are excited to once again work with the DOE and we believe the PathForward program will help accelerate our capabilities to deliver cognitive, flexible, cost-effective and energy efficient exascale-class systems for a wide variety of important workloads.”

— Michael Rosenfield, vice president of Data Centric Solutions, IBM Research


Santa Clara, California

“NVIDIA has been researching and developing faster, more efficient GPUs for high performance computing (HPC) for more than a decade. This is our sixth DOE research and development contract, which will help accelerate our efforts to develop highly efficient throughput computing technologies to ensure U.S. leadership in HPC. Our R&D will focus on critical areas including energy-efficient GPU architectures and resilience. We’re particularly proud of the work we’ve been doing to help the DOE achieve exascale performance at a fraction of the power of traditional compute architectures.”

— Dr. Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research

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