Supercomputers are all set to take a gigantic leap forward once the exascale era begins in 2021 with the launch of Aurora. However, Aurora has been robbed of its title before it could even begin by Frontier System. Frontier System will offer a power of more than 1.5 exaflops as opposed to barely over 1 exaflop of power of Aurora.
Frontier System is undergoing development as part of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project and shall be created by Cray Inc. by utilizing AMD processors. It will be housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Funny enough, Aurora is coming out of the same collaboration except for the fact that it makes use of Intel processors.
As far as processing power goes, an exaflop is basically one quintillion floating point operations per second. Computer scientists have been busy in trying to cross this line and step into the exascale generation ever since the petascale generation started in 2008. Aurora is the very first exascale supercomputer that was unveiled, as you all might remember. However, it might not be the first one to hit the market and will most definitely not be the fastest.
Frontier System is going to be 7.5 times more powerful as compared to the current most powerful supercomputer, Summit, that is operating at 200 petaflops – equivalent of 0.2 exaflops. The Frontier System will be created using more than 100 of new Shasta cabinets from Cray with each housing AMD’s EPYC CPUs and Radeon Instinct GPUs, each custom-build for computing in exascale. Making use of artificial intelligence, all of this power will be focused on specific scientific projects that require a gigantic amount of number-crunching including the sub-atomic structures, genomics, physics, and weather.
Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray, said, ‘Frontier will incorporate foundational new technologies from Cray and AMD that will enable the new exascale era — characterized by data-intensive workloads and the convergence of modeling, simulation, analytics, and AI for scientific discovery, engineering and digital transformation.’
There are still two years to go before Frontier and Aurora are launched. We can safely assume that the exascale race is only going to get more tough and exciting!