$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

By John Russell

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand – and rename – the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to have bipartisan support, calls for giving NSF $100 billion over five years and expanding its mission to include a technology directorate. Early response from the science community has been a mix of enthusiasm for added resources and worry over shifting NSF’s emphasis away from curiosity-driven basic science to more policy-driven technology development.

Given the scope of the plan and the current mobilization of government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely there will be fast action on the bill. The initiative is co-sponsored by Democrat Chuck Schumer (NY) and Republican Todd Young (IN) in the Senate. Early coverage of the proposed changed is in Science Magazine. (UPDATE: Early reaction from four prominent HPC leaders is presented at the end of the article.)

Here’s a brief excerpt from the Science report, written by Jeffrey Mervis:

“The Endless Frontiers Act (S. 3832) proposes a major reorganization of NSF, creating a technology directorate that, within 4 years, would grow to more than four times the size of the entire agency’s existing $8 billion budget. NSF would be renamed the National Science and Technology Foundation, and both the science and technology arms would be led by a deputy reporting to the NSF director. (NSF now has a single director; the deputy director slot has been unfilled since 2014.) Many academic leaders are praising the legislation, which was spearheaded by the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer (NY), and co-sponsored by Senator Todd Young (R–IN). They see it as a huge vote of confidence in NSF, which this year is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

“These funds—which complement, not supplant, existing resources, an important condition—build on the NSF’s strengths and would fill gaps in our research enterprise, while allowing the foundation’s curiosity-driven research to continue to thrive,” says Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “These investments will help NSF catalyze innovation, support scientific leadership, and keep America globally competitive,” adds Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, a 65-member consortium of the nation’s leading research institutions.

But at least one former NSF director fears the bill would take the agency into dangerous territory by asking it to lead the government’s effort to develop new technologies. “I believe it would be a mistake for a technology directorate at NSF to serve as an offset to private funding for commercial innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Arden Bement, who led NSF from 2004 to 2010. “Federal funding for applied technology research and development should be need-based and channeled through mission agencies.”

The new directorate’s efforts would concentrate on a periodically updated list of no more than 10 “key technology focus areas,” with an initial list of the following 10:

  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • high performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware
  • quantum computing and information systems
  • robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing
  • natural or anthropogenic disaster prevention
  • advanced communications technology
  • biotechnology, genomics, and synthetic biology
  • cybersecurity, data storage, and data management technologies
  • advanced energy
  • materials science, engineering, and exploration relevant to the other key technology focus areas

The bill recommends the directorate’s budget rise from $2 billion in fiscal year 2021 to $35 billion in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, with a “hold harmless” provision mandating it cannot receive any funds in a given fiscal year if the budget for the rest of NSF declines. NSF’s annual budget is currently about $8 billion. Schumer and Young’s bill would also establish a Regional Technology Hub Program administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology that would provide grants to consortia working in specified technology areas. The legislation would recommend a total budget of $10 billion for the program covering fiscal years 2021 through 2025. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are expected to introduce the bill in the House.

UPDATE:
There’s a lot to unpack here. While the HPC community will need time to absorb the full proposal, four prominent HPC community members offered early thoughts.

Thomas Sterling, professor and director of AI Computing Systems Laboratory (AICSL), Indiana University, Bloomington:

Thomas Sterling, ISC19

“The strategic vision proposed to update the National Science Foundation after seven decades of establishing science as an American imperative is enlightened and timely. A new National Science and Technology Foundation acknowledges the complex interrelationships between science goals and discoveries on the one hand and technology advancements and innovations on the other. In particular the NSF has proven ambivalent about sponsoring projects in the domain of HPC systems as it has had a less than inspired criteria on judging curiosity-driven research meriting support. Technology innovation has been excluded by some at NSF as meriting support.

“In HPC technology, confusion exists about the role of industry providing next generation products and the need for future generation concepts creation through research. Although not politically fashionable, the review system for proposed research is highly constraining. The ability to recognize value of imaginative but risky ideas in HPC is treated with limited enthusiasm if not disdain. Adding “Technology” to its charter and mandate will force a new competitive culture for HPC systems. Perhaps, the NSTF will elevate systems research in hardware as well as software. Most importantly, mission-critical agencies are not responsible, nor have programs for creativity beyond the near-term in HPC systems. Recent initiatives from DARPA, DOE, IARPA, and NIH have delivered responsible incremental advances but are largely ignoring revolutionary ideas and directions which is the only way that the US will be able to leap-frog the threatening international competition.

“For these reasons, expanding beyond the legacy traditions of NSF to release the imagination and creativity of the nation’s inspired technology research may catalyze a renaissance in US leadership in HPC and systems.”

Dan Stanzione, executive director and associate VP for research, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, UT Austin:

Dan Stanzione, TACC

“We’re still evaluating the details of the proposed Legislation.  At TACC, we strongly support any efforts to strengthen the National Science Foundation, and to strengthen the US investments in key strategic technologies, particularly when other nations are ramping up their corresponding investments. We do believe that it is critically important that any new legislation protects NSF’s critical role in funding basic research.  NSF’s role in basic research is unique among federal agencies, and provides foundational discoveries key to creating future industries and improve the quality of life.”

Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life sciences, Argonne National Laboratory:

Rick Stevens, ANL

“I think improving the funding prospects for NSF basic science mission is very important. Expanding the basic science funding support to universities is a good idea, including expanding engineering research and research infrastructure. I think the government mission agencies are likely the better mechanism for applied science and technology research as they have government mission needs that serve as drivers and can shape priority investments for technology to meet those needs. They are also better staffed and organized to manage technology development projects through national labs and contracts with industry.

“I think it is also important to increase the scale and sustainability of private sector investments in advanced technology development via tax policy and other means such as intelligent government procurements that push the envelope. Increase overall government spending on science and technology is important and making those increases sustainable is even more important as the research community needs that stability to work on long-term problems.”

Jack Dongarra, Innovative Computing Laboratory, University of Tennessee:

Jack Dongarra

“This looks like a great opportunity for NS(T)F to expand its scope. Traditionally NSF was all about the science. Once the academic researcher describing the science was submitted as a paper the extended development was stopped. This may allow NSTF to extend the development into more useful harden technology that can be used. Since government budgets are a zero-sum game this may affect other agencies in an adverse fashion.”

Link to Science Magazine’s coverage: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/us-lawmakers-unveil-bold-100-billion-plan-remake-nsf

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!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This