Department of Energy to deliver $600M supercomputer at ORNL

Beyond Rome: AMD's EPYC and Radeon to Power World's Fastest Exascale Supercomputer

Dubbed Frontier, the exascale machine will be built for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) by 2021.

The IBM supercomputer, called Summit, is now ranked as the fastest computing system in the world, a notch occupied by China's Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe 2A for five years. In fact, according to the DOE, computer processor manufacturer AMD will be partnering with Cray build Frontier together.

The total contract is worth $600m for system and technology development, AMD says, while Frontier will use the Cray Shasta architecture encompassing purpose-built Radeon Instinct GPUs and AI-optimised, custom Epyc CPUs. Frontier is already being touted by the DOE as being "record-setting" and "the world's most powerful computer", and it hasn't even been built yet.

Perry made the announcement Tuesday morning at ORNL. Researchers at ORNL will use the Frontier system's unprecedented computing power and next generation AI techniques to simulate, model and advance understanding of the interactions underlying the science of weather, sub-atomic structures, genomics, physics, and other important scientific fields. In March, Argonne National Laboratory announced a $500 million contract with Intel Corp. and Cray for Aurora, a 1-exaflop machine.

To put things in starker contrast, AMD says that Frontier will have more processing power than the next 160 fastest supercomputers combined. "Frontier will incorporate foundational new technologies from Cray and AMD that will enable the new exascale era - characterized by data-intensive workloads and the convergence of modeling, simulation, analytics, and AI for scientific discovery, engineering and digital transformation". The new accelerator-centric compute blades will support a 4:1 GPU to CPU ratio with high speed AMD Infinity Fabric links and coherent memory between them within the node.

Other than Frontier, the United States is also building another supercomputer termed "Aurora" which is being built by Intel and Cray at Argonne National Laboratory.

ORNL's Center for Accelerated Application Readiness is now accepting proposals from scientists to prepare their codes to run on Frontier.

Frontier will be part of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

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