AMD has taken one look at your puny GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and bellowed with laughter in your face, for Team Red just announced it will be building the world’s fastest supercomputer in conjunction with supercomputer manufacturer Cray.
The monstrously high-spec machine, known as ‘Frontier’, will be capable of around 1.5 exaFLOPS of computing power. That’s the equivalent of 1.5 million teraflops, the same compute performance as roughly 111,940 RTX 2080 Ti GPUs.
This would comfortably make Frontier the fastest supercomputer on Earth when it’s ready for operation in 2021, outstripping the Aurora supercomputer's 1 exaflops, which is also due to be finished in 2021.
The current champion of the supercomputer world is IBM’s ‘Summit’, which offers peak performance of 143 petaflops. That’s less than 10% of AMD and Cray’s new behemoth. Frontier will be as powerful as the next 160 most powerful supercomputers in the world, combined.
AMD’s manufacturing deal for Frontier is with the United States Department of Energy, in a contract worth around $600 million. And, at around $400 per TFLOP, I can’t help but feel the US government is getting a raw deal. Suckers.
It’s the first time AMD has supplied CPUs for the world’s faster supercomputer since 2012, and AMD will be supplying both CPUs and GPUs for heavy compute work. High-performance, custom EPYC CPUs utilising Zen 3 or Zen 4 architecture will be used for Frontier, along with an undisclosed Radeon Instinct GPU solution.
“Frontier’s record-breaking performance will ensure our country’s ability to lead the world in science that improves the lives and economic prosperity of all Americans and the entire world,” said Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. “Frontier will accelerate innovation in AI by giving American researchers world-class data and computing resources to ensure the next great inventions are made in the United States.”
Maybe the Department of Energy can use all of that computing power to finally provide enough evidence to convince their president that global warming is real. Don’t hold your breath on that though.
If you’ve got $600 million burning a hole in your pocket, all you’ll need is 7,300 square feet of space to house it, as well 90 miles of cables. Ah, and you’ll be needing an eye-watering 30MW of power to keep the lights on. Simple.