Intel has won a $19m contract from the US government to develop technology to power the next generation of high-performance computing, developing systems capable to pushing the boundaries of so-called exa-scale computing.
The money will be used to evaluate how to deal with the energy problems and architectural challenges of developing computers that can operate at this exa-scale level.
For example, a 2010 report by the US Department of Energy [pdf] noted that based on current architectures, a computer system capable of operating at an exaflop level would consume more than a gigawatt of power – or roughly the amount of power produced by the Hoover Dam.
But the development of these exascale systems would provide the firepower to crack problems beyond the capabilities of today's computers, said William Harrod, a director of research in the DoE Office of Science's Advanced Scientific Computing Research.
"The exa-scale level of performance will open new predictive scientific simulation possibilities that will impact the lives of every human being,” he said.
“From long term weather forecasting and developing drugs for the most severe diseases to analysing new ways to use energy efficiently, science and engineering researchers need much more compute capacity than is available today in Petascale systems."
David Patterson, president of Intel Federal, the unit which won the contract, said the funding would help fund the next stage in the development of the technology.
“High-performance computing is a transformative technology that will allow current and future generations of scientists and engineers to develop breakthrough advancements to address our most pressing societal issues," he said.
Intel predicted that it will have built exa-scale systems, using technology based on its Many Integrated Core architecture, along with Infiniband and interconnect technology from Qlogic and Cray.
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