Argonne supercomputer with high-performance computing, AI could help solve real-world problems

  • Intel will deliver the Aurora supercomputer, the United States' first exascale system, to Argonne National Laboratory in 2021.

    Intel will deliver the Aurora supercomputer, the United States' first exascale system, to Argonne National Laboratory in 2021. Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

Daily Herald staff report
Updated 3/19/2019 1:26 PM

The first supercomputer with traditional high-performance computing and artificial intelligence capabilities could help solve real-world problems, such as climate change and advancing medical treatments.

Lemont-based Argonne National Laboratory will develop the system named "Aurora" -- the United States' first exascale supercomputer with a performance of one exaFLOP, or the equivalent of a quintillion calculations per second -- which will be used to dramatically advance scientific research and discovery. A joint endeavor by Intel Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy, the more than $500 million contract will be delivered to Argonne in 2021, according to a news release.


The Aurora system will give researchers "an unprecedented" set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale, fostering new scientific innovation and ushering in new technological capabilities. Breakthrough research projects could range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for creation of more efficient organic solar cells.

"Aurora and the next generation of exascale supercomputers will apply (high-performance computing) and AI technologies to areas such as cancer research, climate modeling and veterans' health treatments," U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in the news release. "The innovative advancements that will be made with exascale will have an incredibly significant impact on our society."

Intel CEO Bob Swan said the development of Aurora will be "an important catalyst for economic opportunity."

New Intel technologies, designed specifically for the convergence of artificial intelligence and high-performance computing at extreme computing scale, will serve as the Aurora supercomputer's foundation. Cray Inc. is partnering with Intel and Argonne to provide the next-generation supercomputer system.

"Argonne's Aurora system is built for next-generation artificial intelligence and will accelerate scientific discovery by combining high-performance computing and artificial intelligence to address real world problems, such as improving extreme weather forecasting, accelerating medical treatments, mapping the human brain, developing new materials and further understanding the universe -- and that is just the beginning," Argonne Director Paul Kearns said.

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