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Exascale computing

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Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion (i.e. a quintillion) calculations per second. Such capacity represents a thousandfold increase over the first petascale computer that came into operation in 2008.[1] (One exaflop is a thousand petaflops or a quintillion, 1018, floating point operations per second.) At a supercomputing conference in 2009, Computerworld projected exascale implementation by 2018.[2] This proved accurate, as Oak Ridge National Laboratory performed a 1.8×1018 flop calculation on the Summit OLCF-4 Supercomputer while analyzing genomic information in 2018.[3] They were Gordon Bell Finalists at Supercomputing 2018.

Exascale computing would be considered to be a significant achievement in computer engineering, for it is estimated to be the order of processing power of the human brain at neural level[4] (functional might be lower). It is, for instance, the target power of the Human Brain Project.



As of October 2018, China has two of the four fastest supercomputers in the world.[5] China's first exascale supercomputer will enter service by 2020 according to the head of the school of computing at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT). According to the national plan for the next generation of high performance computers, China will develop an exascale computer during the 13th Five-Year-Plan period (2016–2020). The government of Tianjin Binhai New Area, NUDT and the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin are working on the project. The exascale supercomputer is planned to be named Tianhe-3.[6]

United States

In 2008, two United States of America governmental organisations within the US Department of Energy, the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration, provided funding to the Institute for Advanced Architectures for the development of an exascale supercomputer; Sandia National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory were also to collaborate on exascale designs.[7] The technology was expected to be applied in various computation-intensive research areas, including basic research, engineering, earth science, biology, materials science, energy issues, and national security.[8]

In January 2012, Intel purchased the InfiniBand product line from QLogic for US $125 million in order to fulfill its promise of developing exascale technology by 2018.[9]

By 2012, the United States had allotted $126 million for exascale computing development.[10]

In February 2013,[11] the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity started Cryogenic Computer Complexity (C3) program which envisions a new generation of superconducting supercomputers that operate at exascale speeds based on Superconducting logic. In December 2014 it announced a multi-year contract with International Business Machines, Raytheon BBN Technologies and Northrop Grumman to develop the technologies for C3 program.[12]

On 29 July 2015, President Obama signed an executive order creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative calling for the accelerated development of an exascale system and funding research into post-semiconductor computing.[13] The Exascale Computing Project hopes to build an exascale computer by 2021.[14]

On 18 March 2019, the United States Department of Energy and Intel announced the first exaFLOP supercomputer would be operational at Argonne National Laboratory by the end of 2021. The computer, named "Aurora" is to be delivered to Argonne by Intel and Cray.[15]

On 7 May 2019, The U.S. Department of Energy announced a contract with Cray Inc. to build the "Frontier" supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Frontier is anticipated to be operational in 2021 and, with a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops, should then be the world’s most powerful computer.[16]


In June 2017, Taiwan's National Center for High-Performance Computing initiated the effort towards designing and building the first Taiwanese exascale supercomputer by funding construction of a new intermediary supercomputer based on a full technology transfer from Fujitsu corporation of Japan, which is currently building the fastest and most powerful A.I. based supercomputer in Japan.[17][18][19][20][21] Additionally, numerous other independent Taiwanese efforts have been made in Taiwan with the focus on the rapid development of exascale supercomputing technology, such as the Taiwanese Foxconn Corporation which recently designed and built the largest and fastest supercomputer in all of Taiwan. This new Foxconn supercomputer is designed to serve as a stepping stone in research and development towards the design and building of a state of the art Taiwanese exascale supercomputer.[22][23][24][25]

European Union

In 2011, several projects aiming at developing technologies and software for exascale computing were started in the EU. The CRESTA project (Collaborative Research into Exascale Systemware, Tools and Applications),[26] the DEEP project (Dynamical ExaScale Entry Platform),[27] and the project Mont-Blanc.[28] A major European project based on exascale transition is the MaX (Materials at the Exascale) project.[29]

In 2015, the Scalable, Energy-Efficient, Resilient and Transparent Software Adaptation (SERT) project, a major research project between the University of Manchester and the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, was awarded c. £1million from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The SERT project was due to start in March 2015. It will be funded by EPSRC under the Software for the Future II programme, and the project will partner with the Numerical Analysis Group (NAG), Cluster Vision and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).[30]

On 28 September 2018, the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) was formally established by the EU. The EuroHPC JU aims to build an exascale supercomputer by 2022/2023. The EuroHPC JU will be jointly funded by its public members with a budget of around €1 billion. The EU's financial contribution is €486 million.[31][32]


In Japan, in 2013, the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science began planning an exascale system for 2020, intended to consume less than 30 megawatts.[33] In 2014 Fujitsu was awarded a contract by RIKEN to develop a next-generation supercomputer to succeed the K computer.[34] In 2015, Fujitsu announced at the International Supercomputing Conference that this supercomputer will use processors implementing the ARMv8 architecture with extensions it was co-designing with ARM Limited.[35]


In 2012, the Indian Government has proposed to commit US$2.5 billion to supercomputing research during the 12th five-year plan period (2012–2017). The project will be handled by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.[36][37] Additionally, it was later revealed that India plans to develop a supercomputer with processing power in the exaflop range.[38] It will be developed by C-DAC within the subsequent five years of approval.[39]

Technological challenges

It has been recognized that enabling applications to fully exploit capabilities of Exascale computing systems is not straightforward.[40] In June 2014, the stagnation of the Top500 supercomputer list had observers question the possibility of exascale systems by 2020.[41]

See also


  1. ^ National Research Council (U.S.) (2008). The potential impact of high-end capability computing on four illustrative fields of science and engineering. The National Academies. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-309-12485-0.
  2. ^ "Scientists, IT community await exascale computers". Computerworld. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  3. ^ Hines, Jonathan (June 8, 2018). "Genomics Code Exceeds Exaops on Summit Supercomputer". Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility.
  4. ^ "Brain performance in FLOPS – AI Impacts". 2015-07-26. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  5. ^ "TOP500 List - June 2018". TOP500. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  6. ^ "China's Exascale Supercomputer Operational by 2020---Chinese Academy of Sciences".
  7. ^ Johnson, R. Colin (4 May 2008), "U.S. launches exaflop supercomputer initiative",
  8. ^ "Science Prospects and Benefits with Exascale Computing" (PDF). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  9. ^ "Intel Snaps Up InfiniBand Technology, Product Line from QLogic". 2012-01-23.
  10. ^ "Obama Budget Includes $126 Million for Exascale Computing". Archived from the original on 2011-02-24.
  11. ^ "Proposers' Day Announcement for the IARPA Cryogenic Computing Complexity (C3) Program - IARPA-BAA-13-05(pd) (Archived)". Federal Business Opportunities. February 11, 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  12. ^ "US intel agency aims to develop superconducting computer". Reuters. December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  13. ^ "Executive Order Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative". The White House Office of the Press Secretary. July 29, 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  14. ^ "U.S. Bumps Exascale Timeline, Focuses on Novel Architectures for 2021". The Next Platform. 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  15. ^ "U.S. Department of Energy and Intel to deliver first exascale supercomputer1". Argonne National Laboratory. 2019-03-18. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  16. ^ "U.S. Department of Energy and Cray to Deliver Record-Setting Frontier Supercomputer at ORNL". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 2019-05-08. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  17. ^ "Fujitsu to build world-class AI supercomputer".
  18. ^ "Fujitsu to Build Japan's Fastest Supercomputer | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites".
  19. ^ "Fujitsu to Build 3-PFLOPS Supercomputer for Taiwan NCHC".
  20. ^ "Asetek Receives Order from Fujitsu to Cool Japan's Fastest AI Supercomputer System - Asetek".
  21. ^ "Fujitsu Receives Order for Japan's Fastest Supercomputer System for AI Applications - Fujitsu Global".
  22. ^ "Foxconn Builds Taiwan's Largest Supercomputer | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites".
  23. ^ "Taiwan-based firm reveals supercomputer".
  24. ^ "Hon Hai unveils Taiwan's fastest superc".
  25. ^ "Hon Hai unveils supercomputer system | Tech | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  26. ^ "Europe Gears Up for the Exascale Software Challenge with the 8.3M Euro CRESTA project". Project consortium. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  27. ^ "Booster for Next-Generation Supercomputers Kick-off for the European exascale project DEEP". FZ Jülich. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  28. ^ "Mont-Blanc project sets Exascale aims". Project consortium. 2011-10-31. Archived from the original on 5 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  29. ^ "MaX website". project consortium. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  30. ^ "Developing Simulation Software to Combat Humanity's Biggest Issues". Scientific Computuing. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  31. ^ "EuroHPC - Europe's journey to exascale HPC". Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  32. ^ "The European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking - EuroHPC". Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  33. ^ Thibodeau, Patrick (November 22, 2013). "Why the U.S. may lose the race to exascale". Computerworld.
  34. ^ "RIKEN selects contractor for basic design of post-K supercomputer",, 1 Oct 2014
  35. ^ "Fujitsu picks 64-bit ARM for Japan's monster 1,000-PFLOPS super",, 20 June 2016
  36. ^ "Making up lost ground: India pitches for $1bn leap in supercomputers". Daily Mail. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  37. ^ "India Aims to Double R&D Spending for Science". HPC Wire. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  38. ^ C-DAC and Supercomputers in India
  39. ^ "India plans 61 times faster supercomputer by 2017". Times of India. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  40. ^ Abraham, Erika; Bekas, Costas; Brandic, Ivona; Genaim, Samir; Broch Johnsen, Einar; Kondov, Ivan; Pllana, Sabri; Streit, Achim (2015-03-24), Preparing HPC Applications for Exascale: Challenges and Recommendations, arXiv:1503.06974, Bibcode:2015arXiv150306974A
  41. ^ Anthony, Sebastian (June 24, 2014). "Supercomputer stagnation: New list of the world's fastest computers casts shadow over exascale by 2020".


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