This is why we celebrate Exascale Day

OCTOBER 14, 2019 • BLOG POST • PETER UNGARO CEO, CRAY, A HEWLETT PACKARD ENTERPRISE COMPANY

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • On 10.18 we want to recognize and celebrate the people who will be leading the charge to change our world for the better by performing computational 
  • With the power provided by Exascale supercomputer systems -- systems used as universal scientific instruments -- researchers can ask "what if, why not, and what's next" questions — making a difference in all our lives

Recognizing the scientists and researchers who ask "what if, why not, and what's next"

We've been having a lot of fun recently working on activities for Exascale Day (Friday October 18. 10.18 or 1018 if you are following along with our thinking!). The idea behind Exascale Day is pretty powerful.

On 10.18 we want to recognize and celebrate the people who will be leading the charge to change our world for the better by performing computational science on powerful Exascale systems. [Side note, for those unaware, an Exascale system performs a quintillion Floating Point Operations per second, or 1018 FLOPs.] With the power provided by Exascale supercomputer systems -- systems used as universal scientific instruments -- researchers can ask "what if, why not, and what's next" questions — making a difference in all our lives.  

At Cray, and now HPE, I've had a chance to talk with leaders about the scientific promise of Exascale, and I am beyond humbled that our Shasta technology has been so well-received by the supercomputing community for the upcoming Exascale Era, a new era of computing where we’ll build exascale-class technologies and deliver them not only in the biggest supercomputers on the planet, but these same technologies will be available in a single cabinet for businesses around the globe to solve their data-driven workloads. But, it's not just technology that will make a difference to the world. It's what the visionaries in fields ranging from physics and climate science to cancer research and materials science will do with Exascale technology; technology that I know will lead to some incredible discoveries through modeling, simulation, analytics and, of course, AI.

One of the Exascale systems we'll deliver, along with Intel, will be the Aurora system at the Argonne National Lab and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). Under the Argonne Early Science Program (ESP), researchers are already working on foundational technologies that will make the Aurora system "ready for science on day one." When the system comes online in 2021, researchers will be able to use Simulation, Data-intensive and Learning applications (machine and deep learning) to drive their research at exascale proportions. Already, through the ECF program, scientists are working in the fields of Fusion Reactor Plasmas, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Neuroscience and Drug Response Prediction. 

I think Argonne National Laboratory Director Paul Kerns captured the spirit of Exascale day when he said, "Imagine a computer so powerful that it can predict future climate patterns, saving millions of people from drought, flood, and devastation. Or a computer so powerful that it can model a cancer cell with such accuracy that we can create a personalized treatment, just for you."

This is why we celebrate Exascale day.

Besides expanding scientific frontiers, Exascale systems are considered critical technology for industrial competitiveness. To quote Steve Scott, our CTO of HPC and AI, “supercomputers are used to design better materials and products, optimize business logistics, gather and process massive amounts of data from business transactions, social media, industrial machines, and IoT, and extract insight from troves of data to improve the competitiveness of businesses. By developing technologies that work at exascale, we pave the way for more efficient, capable, and cost-effective solutions for the broader enterprise space.”

Besides Argonne National Lab, two other development efforts are underway in the US to build Exascale systems, as well as one pre-exascale system which is in the process of being developed for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which will be known as Perlmutter.

When it comes online in 2021, the Frontier Exascale system at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Leadership Computing Facility will be used to accelerate innovation in science and technology.  One research example is in the field of fusion energy. Internationally, the ITER energy project is attempting to build the first fusion device that produces more energy than it consumes (net energy). Using Frontier, scientists hope to speed up, 50-fold, the WDMApp high-fidelity simulation code that will be used to perform a whole device simulation of a tokamak magnetic containment device.  In the words of Amitava Bhattacharjee, principal investigator for WDMApp, "Although this is a highly complex problem, the reward will be great. Fusion, in as much as it produces virtually unlimited energy from seawater with no carbon footprint, would be the ultimate solution to mankind's energy needs. I can think of no aspiration greater than this."

This is why we celebrate Exascale day.

A third Exascale system, El Capitan at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will be used by the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to support essential functions for the Stockpile Stewardship Program -- focusing on improving the science and technology surrounding the maintenance and modernization of the US nuclear arsenal. And at the same time, El Capitan will be used by the NNSA to "make critical assessments necessary for addressing evolving threats to national security, and other purposes such as nonproliferation and nuclear counterterrorism."

This is why we celebrate Exascale Day.

At Cray and HPE, we are committed to driving an Extreme Computing agenda and 10.18 is a great day to highlight the power of eighteen zeros.

So why not an Exascale day? A day that celebrates the people who harness the power of eighteen zeros to meet the needs of our ever-changing world.  I couldn’t think of a more exciting reason to celebrate October 18th!

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