Engineering 101

Aurora Rising: Intel and the DOE to Deliver First Exascale Supercomputer

By Dawn Allcot

Intel Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will deliver the first supercomputer with a performance of one exaFLOP. The system, named Aurora, is being developed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago and will be used to dramatically advance scientific research and discovery.

The Aurora system’s exaFLOP of performance — equal to a ​“quintillion” floating point computations per second — combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale.

These breakthrough research projects could include developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction, and revealing new materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. The next generation supercomputer can also apply HPC and AI technologies to cancer research, climate modeling, veterans’ health treatments, and more, according to Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Additionally, by combining high-performance computing and AI, Aurora will be able to improve extreme weather forecasting, accelerate medical treatments, map the human brain, develop new materials, and advance our understanding of the universe.

The foundation of the Aurora supercomputer will be new Intel technologies designed specifically for the convergence of artificial intelligence and high-performance computing at extreme scales. These include a future generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor, Intel’s Xe compute architecture, a future generation of Intel® Optane DC Persistent Memory and Intel’s One API software. Aurora will use Cray’s next-generation supercomputer system, code-named ​“Shasta,” which will comprise more than 200 cabinets and include Cray’s Slingshot high-performance scalable interconnect and the Shasta software stack optimized for Intel architecture.

The contract is valued at more than $500 million and will be delivered to Argonne National Laboratory by Intel and sub-contractor Cray, Inc. in 2021.

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

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