Senate Debate on Bill to Remake NSF – the Endless Frontier Act – Begins

By John Russell

May 18, 2021

The U.S. Senate today opened floor debate on the Endless Frontier Act which seeks to remake and expand the National Science Foundation by creating a technology directorate and shifting a portion of NSF’s focus to technology development rather than basic research. What began as a $100 billion expansion plan has been dramatically slimmed down in committee and what will eventually emerge from the debate is unclear.

The Endless Frontier Act, co-sponsored by Democrat Chuck Schumer (NY) and Republican Todd Young (IN), had a fair amount of early bipartisan support, but wrangling over the size of budget increase and over the right role for the Department of Energy in U.S. science development have reshaped the bill now being discussed. In the House of Representatives, another bill, the NSF for the Future Act, offers a smaller-scaled expansion for NSF and also includes creation of a Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions.

While it is still early in the process, there seems to be momentum for some kind of overhaul of the U.S. government’s approach to science research with an eye towards targeting specific topics for research and increasing applied technology. The NSF has traditionally been charged mainly with pursing basic research. DOE pursues both basic and applied research but closely linked with its specific mission. (See earlier HPCwire coverage)

In remarks on the Senate floor today, Schumer said:

“It is my intention to have an open, bipartisan amendment process. The Endless Frontier Act already includes more than twenty bipartisan amendments from the Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Senator Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker, and I expect we’ll consider several more here on the floor of the Senate.

“Later today, I will file a substitute amendment that pulls together more bipartisan legislation from across Senate Committees into our comprehensive bill that we are now calling the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.

[UPDATE: Brief description of the just filed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act is at the end of the article]

“Restoring America’s competitive edge should unite Senators from both sides of the aisle. The foundation of the past century of American prosperity has been our leadership in science, technology and innovation. If we are going to win the next century, the United States needs to be the one discovering the next groundbreaking technologies. We had that opportunity, for instance, with tech, and we lead the world because of early investments in NSF and DARPA. We have the opportunity now to set our country on a path to out-innovate, out-produce, and out-compete the world in emerging industries of the 21st Century—with profound consequences for our economic and national security.

“If we don’t lead in science and innovation, we will fall way behind.” 

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has been regularly tracking maneuvering around the bills: Here’s a quick summary of the efforts to date from AIP:

  • Endless Frontier Act. “The committee retained the bill’s centerpiece proposal for creating a technology directorate in the National Science Foundation. However, it cut the target five-year budget for the directorate from $100 billion to $29 billion, in part through an amendment by Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) that added $17 billion for the Department of Energy to conduct complementary R&D. The bill’s lead Republican sponsor, Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), called the amendment a “poison pill” and declared he would seek to restore funding for the NSF directorate on the Senate floor. Agencies beyond NSF and DOE may also factor into the floor debate over the bill. For instance, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has argued the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is better suited than NSF to pursue the bill’s goals, asserting the agency has a stronger record on research security.”
  • NSF for the Future Act. “At a meeting last week, the House Research and Technology Subcommittee unanimously approved the NSF for the Future Act, which recommends Congress roughly double the National Science Foundation’s budget over five years in part through the addition of a directorate focused on “societal challenges.” Prior to the meeting, the lead House sponsor of the Endless Frontier Act, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), had said he was “optimistic” the panel would align its legislation with his, but the committee continued to pursue its own course. Subcommittee Chair Haley Stevens (D-MI) stressed the panel’s caution in expanding NSF’s mission, remarking, “While I am excited about the prospect of unleashing the agency to do more of what it does best and to take on new challenges, I feel strongly that our top priority should be to do no harm.” Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) criticized the Endless Frontier Act as offering an unsustainable vision for NSF and attracting tangential amendments in the Senate, though he told National Journal he believes a compromise can be reached. The bill has also faced criticism in the House from outside the Science Committee, with the Republican Study Committee branding it as the “Endless Pork Act.”

(Ed. note: The APS FYI science policy newsletter is a good source for regular coverage for these particular bills and U.S. science policy generally)

Broadly speaking, the Endless Frontier Act pursues an innovation initiative for the U.S. as a whole. The House bill for NSF has a narrower focus. Clearly geopolitical tensions also come into play. China’s rise in the world of science and technology (China’s successful Mars landing on March 14 this year is a concrete example) and strained U.S.-China relations have prompted a number of calls to address U.S. science and technology competitiveness.

Senate debate on the Endless Frontier Act is expected to last for a couple of weeks. Changes are expected, even as noted by Schumer in his remarks. For example, as now written, the bill includes $2 billion for semiconductor R&D targeting defense and the autos. Reuters reports a group of senators is also working on a bill to include $52 billion for chips. One expects a consolidation of many of those kinds of efforts with winners and losers.

If enacted even roughly as is the Endless Frontier Act is likely to be impactful (more funds, targeted research). Its contents should start to become clearer soon.

UPDATE – ANNOUNCEMENT OF U.S. INNOVATION AND COMPETITION ACT OF  2021

Washington, D.C.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer today filed the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer today filed the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act. The bipartisan substitute amendment brings together the already-bipartisan Endless Frontier Act from Leader Schumer and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), which passed the Senate Commerce committee last week and includes more than twenty bipartisan amendments, the Menendez-Risch Strategic Competition Act of 2021, the Brown-Toomey Meeting the China Challenge Act of 2021, as well as bipartisan legislation from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, HELP Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Appropriations Committee.

The Schumer substitute amendment also includes $52 billion in emergency funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS Act included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and a program to support legacy chip production that is essential to the auto industry, the military, and other critical industries. An additional $1.5 billion is provided for the implementation of the USA Telecommunications Act that was also passed as part of last year’s NDAA to foster U.S. innovation in the race for 5G.

“The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 will jumpstart American competitiveness and make one of the most significant government investments in American innovation and manufacturing in generations,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation is the product of hard work from more than a half-dozen Senate committees and includes input from nearly every member of the Senate. This legislation will allow the United States to out-compete countries like China in critical technologies like semiconductors, create good-paying American jobs and help improve our country’s economic and national security.”

A section-by-section summary of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 can be found here and the text of the legislation can be found here.

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!

Digging into the Atos-Nimbix Deal: Big US HPC and Global Cloud Aspirations. Look out HPE?

August 2, 2021

Behind Atos’s deal announced last week to acquire HPC-cloud specialist Nimbix are ramped-up plans to penetrate the U.S. HPC market and global expansion of its HPC cloud capabilities. Nimbix will become “an Atos HPC c Read more…

Berkeley Lab Makes Strides in Autonomous Discovery to Tackle the Data Deluge

August 2, 2021

Data production is outpacing the human capacity to process said data. Whether a giant radio telescope, a new particle accelerator or lidar data from autonomous cars, the sheer scale of the data generated is increasingly Read more…

Verifying the Universe with Exascale Computers

July 30, 2021

The ExaSky project, one of the critical Earth and Space Science applications being solved by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), is preparing to use the nation’s forthcoming exas Read more…

What’s After Exascale? The Internet of Workflows Says HPE’s Nicolas Dubé

July 29, 2021

With the race to exascale computing in its final leg, it’s natural to wonder what the Post Exascale Era will look like. Nicolas Dubé, VP and chief technologist for HPE’s HPC business unit, agrees and shared his vision at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe 2021 held last week. The next big thing, he told the virtual audience at SFE21, is something that will connect HPC and (broadly) all of IT – into what Dubé calls The Internet of Workflows. Read more…

How UK Scientists Developed Transformative, HPC-Powered Coronavirus Sequencing System

July 29, 2021

In November 2020, the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) won the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration for its CLIMB-COVID sequencing project. Launched in March 2020, CLIMB-COVID has now resulted in the sequencing of over 675,000 coronavirus genomes – an increasingly critical task as variants like Delta threaten the tenuous prospect of a return to normalcy in much of the world. Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Data compression with increased performance and lower costs

Many customers associate a performance cost with data compression, but that’s not the case with Amazon FSx for Lustre. With FSx for Lustre, data compression reduces storage costs and increases aggregate file system throughput. Read more…

KAUST Leverages Mixed Precision for Geospatial Data

July 28, 2021

For many computationally intensive tasks, exacting precision is not necessary for every step of the entire task to obtain a suitably precise result. The alternative is mixed-precision computing: using high precision wher Read more…

Digging into the Atos-Nimbix Deal: Big US HPC and Global Cloud Aspirations. Look out HPE?

August 2, 2021

Behind Atos’s deal announced last week to acquire HPC-cloud specialist Nimbix are ramped-up plans to penetrate the U.S. HPC market and global expansion of its Read more…

How UK Scientists Developed Transformative, HPC-Powered Coronavirus Sequencing System

July 29, 2021

In November 2020, the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) won the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration for its CLIMB-COVID sequencing project. Launched in March 2020, CLIMB-COVID has now resulted in the sequencing of over 675,000 coronavirus genomes – an increasingly critical task as variants like Delta threaten the tenuous prospect of a return to normalcy in much of the world. Read more…

What’s After Exascale? The Internet of Workflows Says HPE’s Nicolas Dubé

July 29, 2021

With the race to exascale computing in its final leg, it’s natural to wonder what the Post Exascale Era will look like. Nicolas Dubé, VP and chief technologist for HPE’s HPC business unit, agrees and shared his vision at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe 2021 held last week. The next big thing, he told the virtual audience at SFE21, is something that will connect HPC and (broadly) all of IT – into what Dubé calls The Internet of Workflows. Read more…

IBM and University of Tokyo Roll Out Quantum System One in Japan

July 27, 2021

IBM and the University of Tokyo today unveiled an IBM Quantum System One as part of the IBM-Japan quantum program announced in 2019. The system is the second IB Read more…

Intel Unveils New Node Names; Sapphire Rapids Is Now an ‘Intel 7’ CPU

July 27, 2021

What's a preeminent chip company to do when its process node technology lags the competition by (roughly) one generation, but outmoded naming conventions make it seem like it's two nodes behind? For Intel, the response was to change how it refers to its nodes with the aim of better reflecting its positioning within the leadership semiconductor manufacturing space. Intel revealed its new node nomenclature, and... Read more…

Will Approximation Drive Post-Moore’s Law HPC Gains?

July 26, 2021

“Hardware-based improvements are going to get more and more difficult,” said Neil Thompson, an innovation scholar at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). “I think that’s something that this crowd will probably, actually, be already familiar with.” Thompson, speaking... Read more…

With New Owner and New Roadmap, an Independent Omni-Path Is Staging a Comeback

July 23, 2021

Put on a shelf by Intel in 2019, Omni-Path faced a uncertain future, but under new custodian Cornelis Networks, OmniPath is looking to make a comeback as an independent high-performance interconnect solution. A "significant refresh" – called Omni-Path Express – is coming later this year according to the company. Cornelis Networks formed last September as a spinout of Intel's Omni-Path division. Read more…

Chameleon’s HPC Testbed Sharpens Its Edge, Presses ‘Replay’

July 22, 2021

“One way of saying what I do for a living is to say that I develop scientific instruments,” said Kate Keahey, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago a Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Berkeley Lab Debuts Perlmutter, World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

May 27, 2021

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held virtually at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) today marked the official launch of Perlmutter – aka NERSC-9 – the GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE in partnership with Nvidia and AMD. Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer called Dojo to process truly vast amounts of video data. It’s a beast! … A truly useful exaflop at de facto FP32.” Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months after Red Hat deprecated its support for the widely popular, free CentOS server operating system. The Rocky Linux development effort... Read more…

Iran Gains HPC Capabilities with Launch of ‘Simorgh’ Supercomputer

May 18, 2021

Iran is said to be developing domestic supercomputing technology to advance the processing of scientific, economic, political and military data, and to strengthen the nation’s position in the age of AI and big data. On Sunday, Iran unveiled the Simorgh supercomputer, which will deliver.... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

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…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

AMD-Xilinx Deal Gains UK, EU Approvals — China’s Decision Still Pending

July 1, 2021

AMD’s planned acquisition of FPGA maker Xilinx is now in the hands of Chinese regulators after needed antitrust approvals for the $35 billion deal were receiv Read more…

Q&A with Jim Keller, CTO of Tenstorrent, and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

April 22, 2021

As part of our HPCwire Person to Watch series, we are happy to present our interview with Jim Keller, president and chief technology officer of Tenstorrent. One of the top chip architects of our time, Keller has had an impactful career. Read more…

Senate Debate on Bill to Remake NSF – the Endless Frontier Act – Begins

May 18, 2021

The U.S. Senate today opened floor debate on the Endless Frontier Act which seeks to remake and expand the National Science Foundation by creating a technology Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire