Intel collaborates with US DOE to develop Aurora, the first ‘exascale’ supercomputer

Mar 19, 2019, 12:35 am

Bhaswati S.

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In an Intel Newsroom blog post dated March 18, Intel announced its plans to collaborate with the US Department of Energy (DOE), along with Intel’s partners Argonne National Labs and Cray, to deliver the first supercomputer named “Aurora” which will yield performance of one exaFLOP. An exaFLOP is a quintillion floating point operations per second.

The Aurora supercomputer’s performance of one exaFLOP will empower it to utilize both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI), thereby having the potential of being able to resolve scientific complications at exascale. This includes developing cosmological simulations on a greater scale, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells.

The convergence of artificial intelligence and high-performance computing at extreme computing scale being the main aim of this development. This would be carried out with the help of a future generation of the Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel’s Xe computes architecture, a future generation of Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory, and Intel’s One API software.

Moreover, Cray’s next-generation supercomputer system, code-named “Shasta,” is optimized for Intel architecture and includes Cray’s Slingshot high-performance scalable interconnect. The Shasta software stack along with more than 200 cabinets will be made use of in Aurora optimized for Intel architecture.

Accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation across a broad range of disciplines – Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray

He added that “…Shasta will be the foundation for the upcoming exascale-era characterized by extreme performance capability, new data-centric workloads, and heterogeneous computing.”

Argonne National Laboratory Director Paul Kearns is of the opinion that this innovation integrates high-performance computing and artificial intelligence and it would benefit America greatly. It will also be used to address the real-world problems like extreme weather forecasting, medical treatments, understanding the human brain better, advanced comprehension of the universe, and more.

Achieving exascale is imperative, not only to better the scientific community, but also to better the lives of everyday Americans. 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 – Rick Perry, US Secretary of Energy

The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world’s biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity – Bob Swan, Intel CEO

This supercomputer, which would be used to extensively accelerate scientific research and discovery, will be developed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and will be delivered by 2021, with the contract valued at more than $500 million.

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