Budget Request Reveals New Elements of US Exascale Program

By Tiffany Trader

February 12, 2016

A drill down into the FY2017 budget released by the Obama administration on Tuesday brings to light important information about the United States’ exascale program. As we reported in earlier coverage of the budget announcement, this is the first time that real numbers have been proposed for the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) since it was announced by executive order on July 29, 2015.

With this budget, the strategy of a coherent, connected and overarching exascale-targeted program, unified under the NSCI banner, begins to reveal itself. The budget proposes an investment of $285 million for NSCI on the DOE side and another $33 million for the NSF ledger. Beyond this $318 million sum, there are still other agencies to consider since as you’ll recall, NSCI is very strongly a multi-agency effort. In addition to the three leads — the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) — there are two foundational research and development agencies (the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)); and five deployment agencies identified (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It is not clear at this point, what the full scope of funding entails.

As a DOE crosscut, exascale funding, linked to the Exascale Computing Initiative, is set to go from FY 2016 enacted levels of $252.6 million to $285 million in FY 2017, an increase of more than $32.3 million. Total Office of Science exascale investment is set to increase from $188.6 million in FY16 to $190 million in FY17; and NNSA exascale spending (under the domain of Advanced Simulation and Computing) is set to increase from $64 million to $95 million in the same period, as depicted in the chart below, extracted from the Department of Energy FY 2017 Congressional budget request.

Exascale Computing Initiative funding FY16vFY17

Very significantly, the Exascale Computing Project is also introduced by this budget. As explained in a presentation prepared by Cherry A. Murray, PhD, director of Office of Science, “ECP is initiated as a joint ASCR/NNSA partnership using DOE’s formal project management processes.” Further the budget proposes to transition the Exascale Computing Initiative to the Science Exascale Computing Project in FY17, and to satisfy this change, a new budget line was created, SC-ECP, with a proposed budget of $154 million.

ASCR FY 2017 Budget Request to Congress p8 slide

In an interview with HPCwire, Dan Reed, vice president for research and economic development at the University of Iowa and chair of the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC), shed light on the finer points of the budget’s exascale funding elements and clarified the distinctions between ECI, which will still go on, and ECP, which is being led by Paul Messina, senior strategic advisor of Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. “The ECP is ultimately an execution plan to deliver machines,” Reed shared, adding, “It is the whole process associated with the the deliverables. It’s not just procurement, it’s the development of the whole program.”

Reed emphasized that ECI still exists and will continue to focus on R&D issues related to exascale. “The high-level takeaway is that ECP got funded as a program line and the money that had been parked in ASCR got mostly moved into that, and both ECP and ECI are part of the DOE’s response to the NSCI,” said Reed.

Offering additional insight, Reed explained, “Before [the creation of the new line item for ECP], the place where the exascale R&D money was parked was in the math, computational and computer science part. With this change, the computing-research part of ASCR in some sense will go back to its core mission before the start of exascale which is doing basic and applied research in computer science, computational science and applied mathematics. So in some sense, that’s a return to the past.”

We learn from the Office of Science’s budget proposal that ECP will be “managed according to the project management principles of DOE Order 413.3b” and that an ECP Project Office has been established Oak Ridge National Lab.

DOE Order 413.3B refers to the “Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets” and it’s the process by which DOE stands up capital assets.

“Remember,” said Reed, “that DOE has a well-defined process for standing up new scientific instruments, whether that be historically things like the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne or the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge, or the heavy ion accelerators. They have a well-defined process that includes work breakdown structures, reviews, and delivery checks. That is the part that is ECP. It is a march to an operational facility. It’s not just procurement because there is obviously some magic that has to take place before that in terms of the R&D but it is driven by a focus on establishing an operational facility. That is the same process they would use to stand up any other instrument the DOE operates.”

Asked for his personal take on the likelihood of the budget getting funded, Reed said he thinks that the President’s proposed budget aligns with what expectations were. “The budget is really a placeholder, given the election process,” he said. “There’s a high-probability there will be a continuing resolution rather than a approved budget, but having said that, I think it’s very likely that the new money will appear for DOE to move forward with exascale.”

When asked for comment, Tim Polk, assistant director of Cybersecurity with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), highlighted the importance of exascale computing for the maintenance of US leadership over the coming decades. “The United States must make strategic investments in High-Performance Computing to meet increasing computing demands and emerging technological challenges,” he said, noting that with the proposed $285 million in exascale computing investment at DOE and an additional $33 million in NSCI-focused programs at NSF, combined with existing HPC streams, the BRAIN initiative and other activities, “the NSCI agencies are well-positioned to advance key technologies during FY17.”

This marker of progress toward a national exascale computing program also inspired Jack Dongarra, distinguished professor of computer science in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Tennessee, to share the following commentary:

This past summer’s announcement of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) should usher in a national environment for scientific research that will help the Innovative Computing Laboratory to continue to thrive. Aspiring to “… create systems that can apply exaflops of computing power to exabytes of data,” the NSCI proposes to establish a coordinated, long term, multiagency strategy for improving the nation’s economic competitiveness and research prowess by raising its high performance computing and data analysis capabilities to unprecedented heights.

I remember very well the last time—more than 15 years ago—when such an ambitious federal initiative was launched because it was my long time friend and collaborator, the late Ken Kennedy, who led the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) that produced the Information Technology Research: Investing in Our Future report. If the NSCI generates, over time, the same kind of national research environment that Ken’s PITAC report did, then the future prospects for Computing will indeed be bright.

The reviewed budget documents did not mention a deadline for an exascale deployment, but we know that ECI’s goal is to deploy capable exascale computing systems by 2023.

The DOE budget request reflects a trend of heightened focus on exascale computing. The word “exascale” shows up 26 times — that’s 10 more than last year. Continued funding for exascale computing is an official program highlight, with the following commentary provided as a statement of justification:

Exascale Computing: Enables U.S. leadership in the next generation of high performance computing

Since the beginning of the digital era, the U.S. Federal government has made pivotal investments in the computer industry at critical times when market progress was stagnating. We are once again at a critical turning point in high performance computing (HPC) technology, with industry innovations in hardware and software architectures driving advances in computing performance, but where the performance of application codes is suffering because the technology advances are not optimized for memory intensive, floating point HPC use. Yet the importance of HPC simulations is increasing as the U.S. faces serious and urgent economic, environmental, and national security challenges based on dynamic changes in the energy and climate systems, as well as growing security threats. Providing tools for solving these and future problems requires exascale capabilities. Committed U.S. leadership toward exascale computing is a critical contributor to our competitiveness in science, national defense, and energy innovation as well as the commercial computing market.  Equally important, a robust domestic industry contributes to our nation’s security by helping avoid unacceptable cybersecurity and computer supply chain risks.   

Addressing this national challenge requires a significant investment by the Federal government involving strong leadership from the Department and close coordination with national laboratories, industry, and academia. The Exascale Computing crosscutting initiative is organized around four pillars: application development, software technology, hardware technology, and exascale systems. In FY 2017, DOE proposes to expand its efforts in the first three technical focus areas, and begin efforts in the fourth focus area in FY 2018.  

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after several years of expectations, be the year OpenPOWER and IBM’ Read more…

By Doug Black

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate scientists the ability to use machine learning to identify e Read more…

By Rob Farber

Mellanox Reacts to Activist Investor Pressures in Letter to Shareholders

March 16, 2018

Activist investor Starboard Value has been exerting pressure on Mellanox Technologies to increase its returns. In response, the high-performance networking company on Monday, March 12, published a letter to shareholders outlining its proposal for a May 2018 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders and highlighting its long-term growth strategy and focus on operating margin improvement. Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Harness the Full Power of HPC Servers with an Effective Cooling Approach

High performance computing (HPC) innovation is rapidly transforming the way we operate – with an onslaught of cutting-edge technologies designed to optimize applications and workloads, increase productivity, and enable better business outcomes. Read more…

Quantum Computing vs. Our ‘Caveman Newtonian Brain’: Why Quantum Is So Hard

March 15, 2018

Quantum is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough. Within 10 to 12 years, we’re told, special-purpose quantum systems will enter the commercial realm. Assuming this happens, we can also assume that quantum will, over extended time, become increasingly general purpose as it delivers mind-blowing power. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after sev Read more…

By Doug Black

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Stephen Hawking, Legendary Scientist, Dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early morning of March 14; he was 76. Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking was an English theo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hyperion Tackles Elusive Quantum Computing Landscape

March 13, 2018

Quantum computing - exciting and off-putting all at once - is a kaleidoscope of technology and market questions whose shapes and positions are far from settled. Read more…

By John Russell

Part Two: Navigating Life Sciences Choppy HPC Waters in 2018

March 8, 2018

2017 was not necessarily the best year to build a large HPC system for life sciences say Ari Berman, VP and GM of consulting services, and Aaron Gardner, direct Read more…

By John Russell

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SciNet Launches Niagara, Canada’s Fastest Supercomputer

March 5, 2018

SciNet and the University of Toronto today unveiled "Niagara," Canada's most-powerful supercomputer, comprising 1,500 dense Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 high-perfor Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

World Record: Quantum Computer with 46 Qubits Simulated

December 18, 2017

Scientists from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre have set a new world record. Together with researchers from Wuhan University and the University of Groningen, Read more…

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This