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!

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be carefully woven together by people to create the computational c Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

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 and Sierra. The new AC922 server pairs two Power9 CPUs with f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PEZY President Arrested, Charged with Fraud

December 6, 2017

The head of Japanese supercomputing firm PEZY Computing was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of defrauding a government institution of 431 million yen (~$3.8 million). According to reports in the Japanese press, PEZY founde Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

Azure Debuts AMD EPYC Instances for Storage Optimized Workloads

December 5, 2017

AMD’s return to the data center received a boost today when Microsoft Azure announced introduction of instances based on AMD’s EPYC microprocessors. The new instances – Lv2-Series of Virtual Machine – use the EPY Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

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

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

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

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

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

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th Anniversary

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

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

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Share This