World’s fastest supercomputer will be built by AMD and Cray for US government

The world's fastest supercomputer will be built in the US UU By 2021, the US Department of Energy announced today. UU

The machine, dubbed Frontier, will be built by chip designer AMD and supercomputer maker Cray for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is expected to produce more than 1.5 exaflops per second of processing power, and will be used for a variety of tasks, performing advanced calculations in areas such as nuclear and climate research.

"Frontier's unprecedented performance will ensure our country's ability to lead the world in science that improves the lives and economic prosperity of all Americans and the world. " Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a press release. "Frontier will accelerate innovation in artificial intelligence by providing US researchers with world-class data and computing resources to ensure that the next big inventions are made in the United States."

When it is built, Frontier should be the most advanced example of what is known as "large-scale computing." This is the next generation of computing capacity, in which the processing power is measured in exaflops, or quintillions. of calculations per second A quintillion is one with a whopping eighteen zeros behind it: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.

To give an idea of ​​the scale of this type of machine, AMD says that Frontier will have as much processing power as the following 160 faster combined supercomputers, you can handle an astonishing amount of data, with a bandwidth 24,000,000 times greater than the average domestic Internet connection, capable of processing 100,000 HD movies in a second, and it will also have a huge footprint, which will occupy 7,300 square feet of space (approximately the equivalent of two basketball courts) and containing 90 miles of wiring.

worlds fastest supercomputer will be built by amd and cray for us government

The superco The world's fastest processor is Summit, which is also located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Photo by Micah Singleton / The Verge

Frontier is not the only computer abroad that the United States is currently building. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy announced a similar project: the Aurora supercomputer, which Intel and Cray are building at the Argonne National Laboratory. It is likely that Aurora is the first exascale supercomputer in the US. UU., But Frontier will have a greater processing capacity.

However, these machines do not necessarily mean that EE. UU It is the largest computing power in the world. China is expected to have its own ex-scale supercomputer in operation by 2020, one year ahead of the United States. China is also the world leader in terms of volume of supercomputers, and currently houses 227 of the world's fastest computers (compared to just 109 operated by the US). Japan and the European Union are the other main contenders.

The news is particularly important for AMD, says Patrick Moorhead, semiconductor analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. The contract has a value of $ 600 million and Frontier will use the ratings of AMD's EPYC CPUs, each connected to four of the company's Radeon Instinct GPUs.

The world of supercomputer chips is mainly in the hands of Intel, and AMD has not supplied the processors for the world's fastest supercomputer since 2012, when the AMD Opteron CPUs were used to power the ORNL Titan computer to a benchmark of 17.59 petaflops per second.

Moorhead told The Verge that the Department of Energy probably chose AMD for several reasons, including the performance of its processors and its recent successes in semi-custom silicon design for Microsoft and Sony. "This augurs well for the future of AMD, since it is a technology that should be in the general market after 2021," Moorhead said.

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