Supercomputer: World’s fastest computer being built at ORNL

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) – The U.S. Department of Energy announced Tuesday a contract with Cray Inc. to build the world’s most powerful computer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Scheduled for delivery in 2021, the Frontier supercomputer system will have a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops.

The contract with Cray Inc. is valued at more than $600 million for the system and technology development.

RELATED: $95 million ORNL research facility being built in Oak Ridge

By solving calculations up to 50 times faster than today’s top supercomputers – exceeding a quintillion, or 1018, calculations per second – Frontier will enable researchers to deliver breakthroughs in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security, according to a news release from ORNL.

“Frontier’s record-breaking performance will ensure our country’s ability to lead the world in science that improves the lives and economic prosperity of all Americans and the entire world,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Frontier will accelerate innovation in AI by giving American researchers world-class data and computing resources to ensure the next great inventions are made in the United States.”

Since 2005, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has deployed Jaguar, Titan, and Summit, each the world’s fastest computer at its time.

“ORNL’s vision is to sustain the nation’s preeminence in science and technology by developing and deploying leadership computing for research and innovation at an unprecedented scale,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Frontier follows the well-established computing path charted by ORNL and its partners that will provide the research community with an exascale system ready for science on day one.”

Exascale computing means that the computer is capable of at least one exaflop, or a billion billion calculations per second. 

“Supercomputers can be used to solve problems in every area of scientific research, and today’s announcement that the next generation of supercomputers will be built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory means we will be able to keep America first in supercomputing.” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said. “China, Japan, the U.S., and the European Union all want to be first in advanced computing.

“The stakes are high because the winner has an advantage in such things as advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence.  Today’s decision is even more proof that Oak Ridge’s brainpower, energy research and technological capabilities are the best in the world. I’m very proud of this area, what I like to call ‘the Oak Ridge Corridor,’ and what it has been able to accomplish.”

Researchers with DOE’s Exascale Computing Project are developing exascale scientific applications today on ORNL’s 200-petaflop Summit system and will seamlessly transition their scientific applications to Frontier in 2021, ORNL said. The lab’s Center for Accelerated Application Readiness is now accepting proposals from scientists to prepare their codes to run on Frontier.

Researchers will harness Frontier’s powerful architecture to advance science in such applications as systems biology, materials science, energy production, additive manufacturing and health data science, according to ORNL.

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