Advancing the Frontier of Scientific Discovery

High performance computing (HPC) has become an essential tool of scientific discovery, enabling simulation and modeling, artificial intelligence, and data analytics applications at the largest scales. Today's opportunities for discovery demand that we continue to innovate in HPC, creating ever more capable systems that can drive the converged AI/Analytics/Simulation workloads at the forefront of HPC and deliver the next scientific breakthroughs. Whether it be predicting the next hurricane to improving evacuation procedures, advancing pediatric neural imaging to providing better care for children with neurological disorders, or accelerating humanity’s understanding of the universe, HPC lies at the heart of the modern-day scientific process.

Given the impact HPC has on scientific discoveries, I am excited to see The National Science Foundation's (NSF) award of $60 million to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) to build the new Frontera supercomputing system. Based on next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, Frontera is on track to be one of the world's most powerful supercomputers when it begins operations in 2019. TACC has long been a leader in HPC, and has a proven track record of successful deployments on behalf of NSF.

Accelerating scientific discovery lies at the foundation of TACC's mission, and enabling technologies to advance these discoveries and innovations is a key focus for Intel. In the last six years, TACC has deployed and operated two NSF systems based on Intel® processors that debuted in the Top 10 most powerful systems in the world (as measured by Stampede1 (2012), and Stampede2 (2017).

During its five years of scientific achievement, Stampede1 delivered over three billion core hours of computation and completed more than eight million successful jobs, including projects that supported the confirmation of gravitational wave detections from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the development AI-enabled tumor detection systems. Stampede2, TACC’s current flagship supercomputer based on Intel® processor technology, is currently the world’s fastest university supercomputer.

Frontera (Spanish for "frontier") will be roughly twice as powerful as Stampede2. If you performed one calculation every second for roughly one billion years, you would just match what Frontera will compute in just one second. The system will run on Intel® next generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, which deliver balanced and scalable performance across a diverse and demanding set of workloads, including HPC, High Performance Data Analytics, and AI. Hence, Frontera will not only generate leadership performance on common HPC benchmarks, it will also be a well-balanced resource capable of a broad range of research requiring extreme computing capabilities. Additionally, because Frontera is based on well-known Intel® architecture, research projects can be easily and rapidly on-boarded without code modification. Early projects anticipated for Frontera include analyzing particle collisions from the Large Hadron Collider, modeling global climate patterns, genomic research, drug discovery, and improving hurricane forecasting.

Frontera's name is an allusion to Vannevar Bush's 1945 report to President Truman "Science—The Endless Frontier", which led to the creation of the National Science Foundation. It is a fitting name for a system that will enable improvements to health, well-being, and productivity for people around the world. We at Intel are proud to collaborate with TACC and other HPC system operators to continue to advance the frontiers of science around the globe.

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Trish Damkroger

About Trish Damkroger

Patricia (Trish) A. Damkroger is vice president and general manager of the High Performance Computing organization in the Data Platforms Group at Intel Corporation. She leads Intel’s global technical and high-performance computing (HPC) business and is responsible for developing and executing strategy, building customer relationships and defining a leading product portfolio for technical computing workloads, including emerging areas such as high-performance data analytics, HPC in the cloud and artificial intelligence. An expert in the HPC field, Damkroger has more than 27 years of technical and managerial expertise both in the private and public sectors. Prior to joining Intel in 2016, she was the associate director of computation at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where she led a 1,000-member group comprised of world-leading supercomputing and scientific experts. Since 2006, Damkroger has been a leader of the annual Supercomputing Conference (SC) series, the premier international meeting for high performance computing. She served as general chair of the SC’s international conference in 2014 and has held many other committee positions within industry organizations. Damkroger holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She was recognized on HPC Wire’s “People to Watch” list in 2014 and 2018.