updated 04:06 pm EDT, Mon July 16, 2012
Department of Energy gives NVIDIA $12.4 million to help create power-efficient exascale comptuer
Computer graphics chip maker NVIDIA recently announced that the US Department of Energy has granted it a two-year, $12.4 million contract for the research and development of exascale computer technology. The scientists and engineers from the government and the private company will work together to advance the field and produce an exascale computer that operates at a "reasonable" power level. The focus will be on developing processor architecture, circuits, memory architecture, high-speed signaling, and programming models.
Thousands of throughput-optimized cores will handle the majority of the heavy lifting, while some latency-optimized cores will do residual serial computing. Seven Department of Energy laboratories will guide NVIDIA as to what kind of scientific workloads the exascale computer will need to handle.
There are some other companies receiving grants from the government as part of its FastForward program. It requires the processing of demanding scientific and technical computing loads. An exascale system will be required to perform a quintillion floating point calculations per second, or 1,000 times faster than a one petaflop supercomputer. The fastest supercomputer currently in operation tops out at about 16 petaflops and uses 1.5 million cores.
The DoE hopes to build an exascale system that consumes less than 20 megawatts of power before 2020.