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DARPA Developing ExtremeScale Supercomputer System

By DE Editors

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has initiated the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) program to create a new generation of computing systems that overcomes the limitations of current evolutionary approach.

The four performers selected to develop UHPC prototype systems are Intel Corporation, NVIDIA Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory. Georgia Institute of Technology was selected to lead an applications, benchmarks and metrics team for evaluating the UHPC systems under development.

Computing performance increases have been driven by Moore’s Law (doubling the transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit every two years). The ability to achieve projected performance gains is limited by significant power consumption, architectural and programming complexity issues. To exploit available technological advances fully, highly programmable high performance computers must be developed that require dramatically less energy per computation. The goal of DARPA’s UHPC program is to re-invent computing. It plans to develop radically new computer architectures and programming models that deliver 100 to 1,000 times more performance, and that are easier to program than current systems.

"The DARPA UHPC program is attacking technical issues that are key to the future of high performance computing, from the embedded terascale to the exascale," says Steve Scott, Cray’s senior vice president and CTO, and the Cray principal investigator on the NVIDIA team. "We are excited to be working with this team, and we believe the directions we are pursuing will lead to radical improvements to the state-of-the-art in the coming decade."

The UHPC program directly addresses major priorities expressed by the President’s “Strategy for American Innovation.” These priorities include the “exascale” supercomputing Century Grand Challenge, energy-efficient computing and worker productivity. The resulting UHPC capabilities will provide at least 50-times greater energy, computing and productivity efficiency, which will slash the time needed to design and develop complex computing applications.

Prototype UHPC systems are expected to be complete by 2018.

For more information, visit DARPA.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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