For the last several years, supercomputers in China have been the world's most powerful systems. It's not a situation that sits well with the current U.S. administration, which is why the U.S. Department of Energy announced a massive funding effort this week to push U.S supercomputers forward in an effort called the Exascale Computing Project (ECP).
The Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $258 million in funding, which will be spread across research efforts by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Cray Inc. (CRAY), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), International Business Machines (IBM), Intel Corp. (Intel) and NVIDIA Corp. (NVIDIA).
The funding is being allocated on a three-year contract, with the participating vendors committing to adding additional funding that could bring the total amount in the new U.S supercomputer effort up to $430 million.
"Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation," Rick Perry, U.S Secretary of Energy, said in a statement.
"These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing — exascale-capable systems," Perry continued.
Exascale-Class Systems Expected from U.S. by 2021
Perry and the DOE aren't just throwing money at the six vendors for abstract research; rather, there is the expectation that the investment will lead to the delivery of at least one exascale-class system by 2021. An Exascale system is 50 times faster than the fastest system in the U.S today and would represent a dramatic leap forward in computing power.
The fastest computer in the U.S today is the Titan at Oak Ridge National Lab, ranked third in the world behind the China-based Sunway TaihuLight and the Tianhe-2 supercomputers.
HPE will be using its allocation of the federal funds to advance its The Machine memory-driven computing architecture for High-Performance Computing.
"We are excited at the opportunity to provide the technical blueprint for an exascale system that will process data faster than any supercomputer available today and enable a new era of computational and scientific capabilities," Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager, HPC Segment Solutions at HPE, said in a statement.
"Our novel Memory-Driven Computing architecture combined with our deep expertise in HPC and robust partner ecosystem uniquely positions HPE to develop the first U.S. exascale supercomputer and deliver against the PathForward program's goals," Mannel continued.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.