US challenges China in supercomputing race with upcoming 180-petaflop system

It's a U.S. Department of Energy supercomputer called Aurora, which will be deployed in 2018

To get an edge over China in the supercomputing arms race, the U.S. plans to build a 180-petaflop supercomputer that will be used mainly for scientific research.

The U.S. Department of Energy supercomputer, called Aurora, will be deployed by 2018. Its peak performance of 180 petaflops is more than three times the performance of the fastest supercomputer today. But other systems are already being built to deliver between 150 petaflops to 300 petaflops of performance.

Supercomputers are vital to economic, security, scientific and environmental programs in the U.S. and other countries. For example, supercomputers are used for military programs, weather forecasting and economic model simulations. Countries also boast about their supercomputers as a sign of technological superiority.

The world's fastest supercomputer today is China's Tianhe-2, which can deliver peak performance of 54.9 petaflops, according to a compilation by Top500.org. The Aurora system will be an upgrade over the DOE's Titan supercomputer, the world's second fastest.

Aurora could be one of the fastest supercomputers by 2018, if not the fastest, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

New supercomputers also provide a gateway for new processor, memory, networking and storage technologies. Many technologies typically trickle down from supercomputers into servers used in data centers.

The Aurora supercomputer will be deployed at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. The DOE is investing US$200 million in the supercomputer, and contracts were awarded to Intel and Cray to integrate the system.

Aurora will be based on a design of Cray's next-generation supercomputer code-named Shasta. Not much is known about Shasta yet, but it'll have a faster interconnect than Cray currently provides for supercomputers. A high-bandwidth network is key in reaching the 180 petaflops of performance, as it helps in faster data transfers between storage, processors and memory units inside a supercomputer.

Supercomputers are giant multi-processor systems. Intel said the computer will combine "next-generation" Intel Xeon -- which are used in multi-socket servers -- and Xeon Phi chips, which have up to 72 cores. Intel is also planning on using silicon photonics technology, with data transport inside supercomputers happening through pulses of light.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags supercomputersintelhardware systemslaptopsCrayHigh performanceU.S. Department of Energy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?