AMD and Cray are building world's fastest exascale supercomputer
Summit, the fastest supercomputer in the world right now, is housed at the Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, USA. It is powered by IBM’s Power9 CPUs and Nvidia’s Tesla V100 GPUs and can deliver up to 200 petaflops of processing power. While the specs and performance are indeed impressive, this model is soon to be dethroned by a better version, as scientists across the world are looking to build the first exascale supercomputers. Intel and Cray already announced that the Aurora exascale supercomputer is planned to go online in 2021 at the Argonne National Lab in Chicago, and now AMD just announced that it too is collaborating with Cray to deliver an even faster exascale supercomputer named Frontier, which will be housed yet again at the Oak Ridge National Lab by 2021.
With a peak performance of 1.5 exaflops, Frontier will have the combined processing power of the current top 160 supercomputers in the world. AMD is to provide custom GPUs and EPYC server-grade processors which will be integrated with Cray’s Shasta supercomputer architecture and Slingshot interconnect, which allows clusters that take up to 2 basketball fields to work in tandem. This structure will also include 90 miles of cabling and the network bandwidth of the interconnected clusters will allow data transfer speeds in excess of 1 petabyte per second. The entire project is estimated to cost more than US$600 million.
Frontier will help scientists at the Oak Ridge National Lab with extensive AI-driven simulations that involve climate change forecasting, hurricane path prediction, improved lightweight car building, advanced gene therapy, small modular nuclear reactors that help decrease carbon emissions, better pharmaceuticals, life prolonging, origins and evolution of the Universe etc.
Meanwhile, other countries have expressed intentions to build similar supercomputers, and the U.S. might not even get to be the first country to benefit from an exascale-grade machine. China is expected to launch an exascale supercomputer in late 2020 or early 2021, while Japan and the EU could finalize their own exascale systems by 2022.