The global competition to create the best supercomputer in the “exa” performance verge or even beyond it, has a new contestant: Intel’s Aurora.
The $500 million system is a U.S. Project led by Intel Corp. and Cray. Their efforts will be directed towards reaching one exaflop. This means the possibility to perform a quintillion calculations per second, five times faster than “Summit”, the current fastest supercomputer, developed by IBM.
Aurora will be built to manage traditional high-performance computing and artificial intelligence features that mean a lot for scientific research. The plan is to deliver it in 2021 to the Argonne National Laboratory (Chicago), which belongs to the Department of Energy.
The original plan was to have a 3rd gen Xeon Phi processor, 180PFLOPS of computer power, more than 50 000 compute nodes and more than 7 PB DRAM and to be completed by 2018. The plan changed and now Aurora will come with the next-gen Xeon Scalable processor, paired with Optane DC persistent memory. The supercomputer will use a Shasta supercomputer system which is perfect for A.I., simulations, massive converged modeling and all kinds of analytical workloads.
According to the Director of Argonne National Laboratory, Paul Kearns, with these features “Argonne’s Aurora system will accelerate scientific discovery and address real-world problems, such as improving extreme weather forecasting, accelerating medical treatments, developing new materials, and further understanding the universe…”.
The expectations are high but let’s remember Intel and Cray are not the only developers. The giant China is in the race too. According to the most recent rankings released last year, from the Top 500, 227 machines belong to China and just 109 – to the U.S. Not only China, but also Japan and France have announced they could have their exascale computers one year before Aurora is done.
Money, interest, research, and science. Everything is at stake. We are witnessing the greatest race ever. Will Aurora lead the pack of these amazing supercomputers? Or will China sweep the top position? Only time will tell.