U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced Thursday that Advanced Micro Devices, Cray Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel and NVIDIA Corp. will receive funding from the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP), according to a DOE press release.
ECP is as part of the DOE’s new PathForward program, a project designed to help accelerate research that will lead to the first exascale supercomputers. The awardees will receive funding for research and development of large-scale supercomputers.
The $258 million in funding will be allocated over three years, with companies providing additional funding amounting to at least 40% of their total project cost, bringing the total investment to at least $430 million, according to DOE. The program supports R&D in hardware technology, software technology and application development, with the goal of delivering at least one exascale-capable system by 2021.
What's the motivation for building next-gen supercomputers? The DOE says the development of supercomputers is "critical" for the U.S. to remain dominant in areas such as national security, manufacturing, industrial competitiveness and energy and earth sciences.
China has been making big steps forward in advanced computing, and that’s understandably making U.S. leaders nervous. China currently has the greatest number of supercomputers with 167, according to the Top500, a list that ranks high-performance computers on raw speed. The U.S. has 165.
But to put those numbers in perspective, in 2001, China did not even make the list. China also currently has the two of the fastest computers in the world, while the U.S. has five of the 10 fastest in the world. The DOE program is aimed at pushing the U.S. forward to maintain competitiveness in the future.
DOE is not the only federal agency pushing exascale computers. Last year, the White House launched the National Strategic Computing Initiative, a collaborative effort between government, industry and academia to promote the creation of exascale systems.