Supercomputers help design automobiles and aircraft, create new medical drugs and discover the mysteries of the universe. Now, in a column for the Tri-City Herald, the director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Steve Ashby, introduces a new national collaboration to take supercomputers to the next level of performance.
Under leadership from the Department of Energy, the Exascale Computing Project seeks to deliver a computer by 2021 that can perform one quintillion — or a billion billion — calculations per second. This is like every person in the United States harnessing the collective power of 300 million PCs to solve a single problem. And, it's 10 times faster than the current record holder in China.
The collaboration will redesign and reinvent the hardware, system software and applications that would be used for an exascale computer. PNNL researchers will take the lead on a testbed for an exascale machine by providing a first-of-its-kind computing proving ground, much like test tracks for automobiles. The testbed will include both measurements and simulations to assess performance.
PNNL will also develop applications at the same time these future computing systems are being developed. Such applications will explore computational chemistry and the electric grid.
Read more about PNNL's foray into exascale computing in Ashby's column.