US ranks first in supercomputers with first true exascale machine

The world’s fastest supercomputer resides at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and counts as the first true exascale machine with an HPL score of 1,102 exaflops/second.

The Frontier supercomputer was announced today as the fastest supercomputer on the 59th TOP500 list(Opens in a new window). It uses the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cray EX platform and consists of 74 purpose-built cabinets. Inside them is a mix of 2GHz AMD EPYC 64C processors and AMD Instinct 250X professional GPUs. In total, there are over 9,400 CPUs and 37,000 GPUs for a total core count of 8,730,112.

The massive amount of throughput achieved equates to 52.23 gigaflops/watt and more than 1 quintillion calculations per second. That’s combined with 700 petabytes of storage and HPE Slingshot high-performance Ethernet for data transfers.

To cool the system, HPE pumps 6,000 gallons of water through the Frontier cabinets every minute using four 350-horsepower pumps.

To put this leap in performance into context, the previous fastest supercomputer is the Fugaku system installed at the RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS) in Kobe, Japan. It contains 7,630,848 cores and has an HPL benchmark of just 442 petaflops/second compared to Frontier’s 1.1 exaflops/second. Fugaku also offers nearly three times the processing power of the third-place supercomputer.

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Frontier has a theoretical maximum throughput of 2 exaflops, and ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia says it will be put to very good use.(Opens in a new window):

“Frontier ushers in a new era of exascale computing to solve the world’s greatest scientific challenges. This milestone provides just a preview of Frontier’s unmatched ability as a tool for scientific discovery. It is the result of more than a decade collaboration between labs, academia, and private industry, including the DOE’s Exascale Computing Project, which is implementing the applications, software technologies, hardware, and integration needed to ensure impact at the exascale.”

ORNL is currently conducting Frontier testing and validation, with early scientific access to the system expected later this year. Full access to science will start early next year.

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