DARPA Grant Awarded for ‘Extremescale’ Supercomputing

The University of Utah is part of a group of companies and other universities that has recently been awarded a four-year, $25 million research grant, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to develop graphics processing unit (GPU) technologies required to build an innovative new generation of computing systems, called “extremescale” supercomputers, which are projected to be 1,000 times more powerful than today’s fastest supercomputers. DARPA is the research and development office for the U.S. Department of Defense.

 “The technologies we propose to develop will enable construction of systems that achieve energy efficiency, are easy to program and are resilient in the face of both component failures and malicious attacks,” says Mary Hall, associate professor in the School of Computing. Hall is leading the U of U group whose role is “to contribute to the programming model design and compiler technology for the proposed architecture” in collaboration with other teams from outside the U.

DARPA awarded the research contract under its Ubiquitous High-Performance Computing (UHPC) program to enable the construction of exascale supercomputers by 2018. The resulting UHPCs “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,” according to a news release from DARPA.

The project is led by NVIDIA Corporation, inventor of the GPU, who named the University of Utah a CUDA Center of Excellence for its pioneering work in parallel computing. The University’s of Utah’s portion accounts for approximately $1.2M of the total project. Other members of the project include Cray Inc., Micron Technology Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Georgia Tech, the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania.

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