RFHPC192: How Many Accelerators will it take to build an Exascale Machine?

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team takes a look at daunting performance targets for the DOE’s CORAL-2 RFP for Exascale Computers.

“So, 1.5 million TeraFlops divided by 7.8 is how many individual accelerators you need, and that’s 192,307, which by the way looks like a prime number. Now, multiply that by 300 watts per accelerator, and it is clear we are going to need something all-new to get where we want to go.”

The Request for Proposals is designed to get bids from vendors to build two and (potentially) three new exascale supercomputers. Each system is expected to cost between $400 – $600 million.

“These CORAL-2 systems represent the next generation in supercomputing and will be critical tools both for our nation’s scientists and for U.S. industry,” Secretary Perry said.  “They will help ensure America’s continued leadership in the vital area of high performance computing, which is an essential element of our national security, prosperity, and competitiveness as a nation.”

The new RFP calls for systems to be housed at:

  • One will be at ORNL
  • One at LLNL
  • A possible third system at Argonne

Specifications:

  • According to the RFP, baseline performance for each system should be at least 1300 Petaflops/sec.
  • Power budget will go up to 60 Megawatts. Preferred power consumption for the system is 20-60 Megawatts.
  • MTBF is requested to somewhere around 6 Days

As far as predictions go, Dan thinks one machine will go to IBM and the other will go to Intel. Rich thinks HPE will win one of the bids with an ARM-based system designed around The Machine memory-centric architecture. They have a wager, so listen in to find out where the smart money is.

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