US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

By Tiffany Trader

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the “Aurora” supercomputer is on track to be the United States’ first exascale system. Aurora, originally named as the third pillar of the CORAL “pre-exascale” project, will still be built by Intel and Cray for Argonne National Laboratory, but the delivery date has shifted from 2018 to 2021 and target capability has been expanded from 180 petaflops to 1,000 petaflops (1 exaflop).

The fate of the Argonne Aurora “CORAL” supercomputer has been in limbo since the system failed to make it into the U.S. DOE budget request, while the same budget proposal called for an exascale machine “of novel architecture” to be deployed at Argonne in 2021. Until now, the only official word from the U.S. Exascale Computing Project was that Aurora was being “reviewed for changes and would go forward under a different timeline.”

Officially, the contract has been “extended,” and not cancelled, but the fact remains that the goal of the Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore (CORAL) initiative to stand up two distinct pre-exascale architectures was not met.

According to sources we spoke with, a number of people at the DOE are not pleased with the Intel/Cray (Intel is the prime contractor, Cray is the subcontractor) partnership. It’s understood that the two companies could not deliver on the 180-200 petaflops system by next year, as the original contract called for. Now Intel/Cray will push forward with an exascale system that is some 50x larger than any they have stood up.

It’s our understanding that the cancellation of Aurora is not a DOE budgetary measure as has been speculated, and that the DOE and Argonne wanted Aurora. Although it was referred to as an “interim,” or “pre-exascale” machine, the scientific and research community was counting on that system, was eager to begin using it, and they regarded it as a valuable system in its own right. The non-delivery is regarded as disruptive to the scientific/research communities.

Another question we have is that since Intel/Cray failed to deliver Aurora, and have moved on to a larger exascale system contract, why hasn’t their original CORAL contract been cancelled and put out again to bid? With increased global competitiveness, it seems that the DOE stakeholders did not want to further delay the non-IBM/Nvidia side of the exascale track. Conceivably, they could have done a rebid for the Aurora system, but that would leave them with an even bigger gap if they had to spin up a new vendor/system supplier to replace Intel and Cray. Starting the bidding process over again would delay progress toward exascale – and it might even have been the death knell for exascale by 2021, but Intel and Cray now have a giant performance leap to make and three years to do it. There is an open question on the processor front as the retooled Aurora will not be powered by Phi/Knights Hill as originally proposed.

These events contrast with the IBM-led effort and have the IBM/Nvidia/Mellanox path looking very good by comparison. The other CORAL thrusts — Summit at Oak Ridge and Sierra at Lawrence Livermore — are on track, with Summit several weeks ahead of Sierra, although it is looking like neither will make the cut-off for entry onto the November Top500 list as many had speculated.

We reached out to representatives from Cray, Intel and the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) seeking official comment on the revised Aurora contract. Cray and Intel declined to comment and we did not hear back from ECP by press time. We will update the story as we learn more.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

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

ASC24 Student Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why?

June 18, 2024

As is our tradition, we’re going to take a detailed look back at the recently concluded the ASC24 Student Cluster Competition (Asia Supercomputer Community) to see not only who won the various awards, but to figure out Read more…

Qubits 2024: D-Wave’s Steady March to Quantum Success

June 18, 2024

In his opening keynote at D-Wave’s annual Qubits 2024 user meeting, being held in Boston, yesterday and today, CEO Alan Baratz again made the compelling pitch that D-Wave’s brand of analog quantum computing (quantum Read more…

Apple Using Google Cloud Infrastructure to Train and Serve AI

June 18, 2024

Apple has built a new AI infrastructure to deliver AI features introduced in its devices and is utilizing resources available in Google's cloud infrastructure.  Apple's new AI backend includes: A homegrown foun Read more…

Argonne’s Rick Stevens on Energy, AI, and a New Kind of Science

June 17, 2024

The world is currently experiencing two of the largest societal upheavals since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One is the rapid improvement and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, while the Read more…

Under The Wire: Nearly HPC News (June 13, 2024)

June 13, 2024

As managing editor of the major global HPC news source, the term "news fire hose" is often mentioned. The analogy is quite correct. In any given week, there are many interesting stories, and only a few ever become headli Read more…

Quantum Tech Sector Hiring Stays Soft

June 13, 2024

New job announcements in the quantum tech sector declined again last month, according to an Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) report issued last week. “Globally, the number of new, public postings for Qu Read more…

Qubits 2024: D-Wave’s Steady March to Quantum Success

June 18, 2024

In his opening keynote at D-Wave’s annual Qubits 2024 user meeting, being held in Boston, yesterday and today, CEO Alan Baratz again made the compelling pitch Read more…

Shutterstock_666139696

Argonne’s Rick Stevens on Energy, AI, and a New Kind of Science

June 17, 2024

The world is currently experiencing two of the largest societal upheavals since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One is the rapid improvement and imp Read more…

Under The Wire: Nearly HPC News (June 13, 2024)

June 13, 2024

As managing editor of the major global HPC news source, the term "news fire hose" is often mentioned. The analogy is quite correct. In any given week, there are Read more…

Labs Keep Supercomputers Alive for Ten Years as Vendors Pull Support Early

June 12, 2024

Laboratories are running supercomputers for much longer, beyond the typical lifespan, as vendors prematurely deprecate the hardware and stop providing support. Read more…

MLPerf Training 4.0 – Nvidia Still King; Power and LLM Fine Tuning Added

June 12, 2024

There are really two stories packaged in the most recent MLPerf  Training 4.0 results, released today. The first, of course, is the results. Nvidia (currently Read more…

Highlights from GlobusWorld 2024: The Conference for Reimagining Research IT

June 11, 2024

The Globus user conference, now in its 22nd year, brought together over 180 researchers, system administrators, developers, and IT leaders from 55 top research Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

ASC24 Expert Perspective: Dongarra, Hoefler, Yong Lin

June 7, 2024

One of the great things about being at an ASC (Asia Supercomputer Community) cluster competition is getting the chance to interview various industry experts and Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Everyone Except Nvidia Forms Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Consortium

May 30, 2024

Consider the GPU. An island of SIMD greatness that makes light work of matrix math. Originally designed to rapidly paint dots on a computer monitor, it was then Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Intel’s Next-gen Falcon Shores Coming Out in Late 2025 

April 30, 2024

It's a long wait for customers hanging on for Intel's next-generation GPU, Falcon Shores, which will be released in late 2025.  "Then we have a rich, a very Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket fo Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire