International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ:MLNX) have been tapped by the U.S. Department of Energy to build the world’s fastest supercomputers by 2017. The DoE will fund the project to the tune of $325 million.
The two new GPU-accelerated supercomputers, named Sierra and Summit, are based on International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s OpenPOWER chips, Nvidia’s cutting-edge graphics chip Volta and Mellanox’s high-speed networking systems for control and communication.
The Summit supercomputer is designed for civilian scientific use at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and will be the more powerful machine, delivering a raw speed of 150 to 300 peak petaflops.
Sierra is designed to deliver more than 100 peak petaflops and is designed for use in military nuclear weapons simulations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
New supercomputer will blow away existing records
Sierra and Summit have been designed from the ground up to blow away the current global computing speed champs. Oak Ridge’s Titan holds the U.S. record at 27 peak petaflops, while the current world record holder, China’s Tianhe-2, doubles that 55 peak petaflops. Summit’s projected top end of 300 peak petaflops beats the Chinese machine by 300 to 500%.
Speedy “data-centric” approach
Of note, IBM is also inttroducing a new “data centric” approach in the new supercomputer systems. By placing computing power everywhere data resides, it’s possible to minimize data movement as well as energy consumption.
Both the Sierra and Summit systems will be capable of moving data to the processor at greater than 17 petabytes per second — that’s like uploading 100 billion photos onto Facebook in one second.
“Today’s announcement marks a shift from traditional supercomputing approaches that are no longer viable as data grows at enormous rates,” noted Tom Rosamilia, SVP of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s Systems and Technology Group, in a press release. “IBM’s Data Centric approach is a new paradigm in computing, marking the future of open computing platforms and capable of addressing the growing rates of data.”
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz also pointed out that “High-performance computing is an essential component of the science and technology portfolio required to maintain U.S. competitiveness and ensure our economic and national security.”
DoE also funding new “FastForward2” supercomputer development program
In addition, the DoE announced it plans to invest $100 million in FastForward2, a public-private R&D consortium with the goal of developing more powerful and energy-efficient supercomputers. Almost all of the major players in supercomputing are participating in FastForward2, including IBM, Nvidia, Intel, AMD and supercomputer maker Cray.