Computers

World's fastest supercomputer will heat up race to the exascale era

World's fastest supercomputer ...
The Frontier system will be the world's fastest supercomputer, boasting the power of 1.5 exaflops
The Frontier system will be the world's fastest supercomputer, boasting the power of 1.5 exaflops
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The Frontier system will be the world's fastest supercomputer, boasting the power of 1.5 exaflops
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The Frontier system will be the world's fastest supercomputer, boasting the power of 1.5 exaflops

Supercomputers will take a huge leap forward when the "exascale" era kicks off in 2021 with the launch of Aurora. But now it looks like that world-leading machine will be usurped before it's even set up. The just announced Frontier system will boast the power of over 1.5 exaflops – that's one and a half billion billion floating point operations per second.

Frontier is being developed as part of the US Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project, and will be built by Cray Inc. using AMD processors and housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Interestingly, Aurora is a product of almost the exact same collaboration, only substituting Intel for the innards.

In terms of processing power, an exaflop is one quintillion floating point operations per second. Getting supercomputers across that line and into the exascale generation is a milestone that computer scientists have been working towards ever since the petascale generation began in 2008.

Aurora was the first exascale supercomputer announced, but now it looks like it may not be the first to market, and it won't be the fastest. Where Aurora just slides in over the line at 1 exaflop, Frontier is set to leapfrog it, jumping to 1.5 exaflops. That makes it about 7.5 times faster than the world's current most powerful supercomputer, Summit, running at 200 petaflops or the equivalent of 0.2 exaflops.

Frontier will be built with over 100 of Cray's new Shasta cabinets, each one crammed with AMD's EPYC CPUs and Radeon Instinct GPUs, all custom-built for exascale computing. With the help of advanced artificial intelligence, all this power will be channeled into scientific endeavors that require huge amounts of number-crunching, such as simulations and models of complex systems like the weather, physics, sub-atomic structures and genomics.

"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," says Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray.

With two years still to go before Frontier and Aurora launch, we expect this exascale race is only going to heat up.

Sources: ORNL, AMD

8 comments
anthony88
For those wondering what this will mean for humanity, it means that this computer will be able to make calculations that - when networked to devices set around in the environment - will make it possible to determine to within the margin of error of just a few microns the location of keys in your house, meaning you will never lose them again. This is surely a great day for humanity.
Victor-in-A2
Thank god, I lose my keys too much!
Grumpyrelic
Soon we will get a computer that we deserve. One that will only make one statement "I don't deal with lesser entities!" and then shut up.
bwana4swahili
"such as simulations and models of complex systems like the weather, physics, sub-atomic structures and genomics" Processing power is one thing, having simulations and models that accurately predict actual processes is quite something else! Now we have the processing power to generate crappy simulation and model results much faster; whoopee!!
noteugene
All this computing power, speed & people don't know what it's leading to. It won't be to keep track of your car keys. Its to keep track of you.
F. Tuijn
Two years is a long time in computing power increases. What is China doing in the mean time?
ljaques
Yeah, pretty soon, TV weathermen and Climate Change loonies will be wrong MUCH more quickly! The NSA will call Vic and tell him where his keys are because realtime monitoring of every human, pet, and insect on the Earth will be possible. And SkyNet will be born! Its first statement will be "I love it when a plan comes together."
JimRD
This computer will generate enough waste heat to power a small village. Hope they recycle it.