DOE and Cray Announce Exascale Supercomputer Frontier

Here at Cray, we’re charging into the exascale era. We followed March’s announcement of the United States’ first exascale system ― Argonne National Laboratory’s Aurora supercomputer ― with another last week.

At an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-hosted event, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) revealed Frontier, an even more powerful exascale supercomputer expected to land at ORNL in 2021.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry discusses Frontier at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory event.

Frontier will be based on our new Shasta™ architecture and Slingshot™ interconnect and will feature high-performance AMD EPYC™ CPU and AMD Radeon Instinct™ GPU technology.

And the stats on the system are impressive: 1.5 exaflops of performance (more operations per second than 160 of today’s top supercomputers combined could manage), 100 cabinets, one million pounds of hardware, and a total contract award of more than $600 million. The DOE expects Frontier to be the world’s most powerful computer for science and innovation.

Read the announcement for more system and contract details.

Industry and government leaders gathered to celebrate the Frontier news. From left: Cray CEO Pete Ungaro, AMD CEO Lisa Su, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Under Secretary of Energy for Science Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes, University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd, and Manager of the DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office Johnny Moore.

Speaking at the event, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry called the Frontier announcement a “big day” for the United States. He pointed out not only the rapidity with which the nation is entering the exascale era, but how the innovation represented by Frontier underscores the power of public-private sector collaboration.

AMD CEO Lisa Su added her own perspective, highlighting the momentousness of creating Frontier ― a platform capable of executing research at more than 1.5 exaflops. “We set out with an incredibly ambitious goal,” she said of the DOE, Cray, and AMD effort.

And Cray CEO Pete Ungaro spoke for us here when he said we’re grateful ― and humbled ― to be chosen to build Frontier. It’s a true honor. Especially because it’s not just a machine we’re building. With exascale computing we’re at a major technology inflection point ― the start of a new era that will define science, business, and discovery for years to come.

Cray CEO Pete Ungaro addresses the group of gathered industry leaders and dignitaries at the Frontier announcement, Tuesday, May 7.

Watch the livestream of the announcement event.

From left: U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia, Cray CEO Pete Ungaro, and AMD CEO Lisa Su

In our industry, we’ve been discussing and developing exascale technology for years. But with Frontier ― buoyed by the Aurora announcement before it ― exascale has captured national attention. The news landed in hundreds of media outlets, including Newsweek, Forbes, and CNBC.

Trends like digital transformation and the explosion of data are affecting organizations of all sizes worldwide. And a cloud-enabled, open source software ecosystem is supercharging the pace of innovation. These realities are driving new workloads and new capabilities. That’s why exascale isn’t limited to a few massive systems. It’s a new era of computing that’s applicable to every enterprise big and small.

To understand more about how your organization will intersect with the exascale era, contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

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