Better computer engineering and smart technologies is something that various departments in the US government wants to ensure that they can function effectively and have better data at their disposal. In 2008, petascale computers came into operation allowing various US government departments to handle the data in the right way. However, with the improvement in technology exascale computing is soon taking over. In simple terms, exascale computing is a computing system that is capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per seconds. It is a thousand fold leap over the currently used petascale computing machines. Currently, the United States government has put aside $126 million for exascale computing research programs like Fast Forward and other similar projects.
The Department of Energy has always been pushing the technological limits for science and national security. The DOE requires such kind of computing power to address other critical problems of national interest. Fast Forward research program takes an important step towards providing answers and bridging the gap between public and private sector and also between DOE and top leaders in the computing industry. The new research program focuses on component technologies especially in the areas of memory, processor and storage technology which will lay the ground-work for long-lead time advances that will meet the DOE requirements.
The main objective of the Fast Forward program is to develop partnerships with multiple computing firms that can boost the research and development of critical component technologies that are required for exascale computing. As per the DOE report, current approaches to High Performance Computing software and hardware design is not sufficient to produce the required exascale capabilities. On the other hand, many DOE applications require extreme capabilities for computations, reliability and data movement.
At the moment, Fast Forward has funded innovative and advanced research and development technologies targeted for productization in the next five to ten years. In 2011, the Fast Forward research program came up with innovative R&D proposals in the area of memory, processor and storage solutions to maximize the energy and efficiency while boosting performance, reliability and productivity of key DOE applications used by the Office of Science and the NNSA. The project will also help in addressing long-lead time items that will impact high performance computing systems that will come up in the future. At the moment, the technologies are hugely disruptive and expensive and they impact DOE’s productivity negatively.
With the help of Fast Forward exascale program DOE will be able to initiate private-public partnership that will aid in the development of new technologies to reduce various manufacturing, economic and construction barriers. The new technologies that will be introduced will have the potential to impact low-power embedded, cloud and data center and other midrange High Performance Computing applications. DOE believes that their investments in Fast Forward will provide them with better abilities to leverage commercial development for future systems and to create sustainable software/hardware ecosystem that will support all applications across the HPC market.