A new European exascale computing project, known as EuroEXA, kicked off at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center this week during a meeting that brought together the 16 organizations involved in the effort. EuroEXA is the latest in a series of exascale investments by the European Union (EU), which will contribute €20 million to the project over the next three and a half years. It consolidates the research efforts of a number of separate projects initiated under the EU's Horizon 2020 program, including ExaNeSt (exascale interconnects, storage, and cooling), EcoScale (exascale heterogeneous computing) and ExaNoDe (exascale processor and node design). This €20 million is just the down payment to the total €50 million investment that will eventually be contributed by the European Commission to the EuroEXA work. As reflected in the consolidated Horizon 2020 efforts, it will include R&D money for exascale system software, server hardware, networking, storage, cooling and datacenter technologies.
Exascale computing promises to bring significant changes to both the high-performance computing space and eventually enterprise datacenter infrastructures. The systems, which are being developed in multiple countries around the globe, promise 50 times the performance of current 20 petaflop-capable systems that are now among the fastest in the world, and that bring corresponding improvements in such areas as energy efficiency and physical footprint. The systems need to be powerful run the increasingly complex applications being used by engineers and scientists, but they can't be so expensive to acquire or run that only a handful of organizations can use them. At the same time, the emergence of high-level data analytics and machine learning is forcing some changes in the exascale efforts in the United States, changes that play a role in everything from the software stacks that are being developed for the systems to the competition with Chinese companies that also are aggressively pursuing exascale computing. During a talk last week at the OpenFabrics Workshop in Austin, Texas, Al Geist, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and CTO of the Exascale Computing Project (ECP), outlined the work the ECP is doing to develop exascale-capable systems within the next few years.
You're invited to celebrate the first annual Exascale Day on October 18 (1018, of course!) with the US Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project, global supercomputing leader, Cray, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, and the DOE laboratories that will house the nation's first three exascale supercomputers: Argonne, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore. Together we are hosting a panel discussion on how the advanced technology of the Exascale Era will change the face of computational science and the advances it will foster. Exascale supercomputers like Aurora, Frontier and El Capitan will arm scientists and researchers to push the boundaries of research well beyond today's capabilities in our quest for medical cures, energy sources, nuclear security, and delving deeper into mysteries such as the birth of the universe. There are a myriad possibilities of what visionaries will be able to do with a quintillion computations per second.
China is taking a unique approach in the global race to produce an exascale supercomputer, which would perform a quintillion floating point operations per second. The United States, Japan, and the European Union are all racing to reach this supercomputing milestone. But China had three competing teams develop prototypes that have been tested for speed, stability, and energy consumption and given trial runs of software from different application areas. The Ministry of Science and Technology is expected to select two of the prototypes for development into exascale systems within this year. The original target to bring the systems online was 2020, but the date is likely to slip.
The US government is giving six companies a total of $258 million in hopes that they can build an exascale supercomputer before China, Japan or anyone else does. A post on the Exascale Computing Project website has revealed that the Department of Energy has awarded AMD, Cray, HP, IBM, Intel and Nvidia $258 million in funding over a three-year period. The six corporations won't depend solely on the government's money, though -- to show that they're also fully invested in the project, they'll cover 40 percent of the total costs that could amount to least $430 million. An exascale supercomputer would be capable of making a billion billion calculations per second and is expected to have the same processing power as the human brain at neural level. It could change the way we do research, help us conjure up elusive treatments for illnesses and unravel the mysteries of our planet and the universe.