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Intel and Cray Collaborate With U.S. Government, Aims for Nation’s Fastest Computer

The world's current most powerful machine, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, contains chips from International Business Machines Corp. and Nvidia.

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Intel
This Jan. 1, 2018, file photo shows an Intel logo on the box containing an HP desktop computer on sale at a Costco in Pittsburgh. VOA

A U.S. government-led group is working with chipmaker Intel and Cray to develop and build the nation’s fastest computer by 2021 for conducting nuclear weapons and other research, officials said Monday.

The Department of Energy and the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago said they were working on a supercomputer dubbed Aurora with Intel, the world’s biggest supplier of data center chips, and Cray, which specializes in the ultra-fast machines.

The $500 million contract for the project calls on the companies to deliver a computer with so-called exaflop performance — that is, being able to perform 1 quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.

Computer
It also heightens the stakes in a race in which the United States, China, the European Union and Japan have all announced plans to build exaflop-capable supercomputers. VOA

If the project succeeds, Aurora would represent nearly an order of magnitude leap over existing machines that feature so-called petaflop performance, capable of doing 1 quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) calculations a second.

It also heightens the stakes in a race in which the United States, China, the European Union and Japan have all announced plans to build exaflop-capable supercomputers.

One of Aurora’s primary functions would be simulating nuclear blasts, a pillar of weapons development since the ban of live detonation testings.

Aurora will be built with artificial intelligence capabilities for projects such as developing better battery materials and helping the Department of Veterans Affairs prevent suicides, Rick Stevens, an associate lab director with Argonne overseeing the exascale computing project, said during a news
briefing.

The project is a win for Intel, which will supply its Xeon CPU chips and Optane memory chips for Aurora.

FILE - The Nvidia booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2017.
The Nvidia booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2017. VOA

Intel has been fending off rival U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp.’s rise in the chip content of supercomputers as the machines take on more artificial intelligence work. Nvidia’s chips are found in five of the world’s current top 10 supercomputers, though the Nvidia chips are found alongside chips from its rivals, according to TOP500, which ranks the machines.

The world’s current most powerful machine, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, contains chips from International Business Machines Corp. and Nvidia.

The source of chips for supercomputers has become a factor in trade tensions between the United States and China. The world’s third-fastest supercomputer — the Sunway TaihuLight in China — has chips developed domestically in China.

Also Read: U.S. Tariffs on China Could Remain Same, Even After Reaching The Trade Deal

Chirag Dekate, an analyst with Gartner who studies the supercomputing market, said that despite the small contract size relative to Intel’s overall revenue, the work done on Aurora will eventually filter down to the company’s commercial customers.

“It’s not just a jingoistic race between the U.S. and China,” Dekate said. “The innovations that Intel is developing here will percolate down to other parts of its business.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How Alexa Will Let You Order Gifts Online

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands

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Alexa
The new Alexa Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts. Pixabay

India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia, the company said on Monday.

The Skill allows customers to order and send flowers or cakes through the voice assistant.

The brand is anticipating that the business generated through this initiative will touch 10 per cent of the overall online business by 2025.

“We are pleased to be the first player in the gifting industry to roll out Alexa Skill to provide our users an easy access and convenient ordering process of the products in flowers and cakes category,” said Pawan Gadia, CEO, online and retail, Ferns N Petals.

The company has developed ‘The Ferns N Petals Alexa Skill’ for easy access on all Alexa-enabled devices.

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands.

Alexa
India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia. Pixabay

In Phase 1, Alexa Skill will be launched for existing customers who have an account with Ferns N Petals and have a saved address in their profile.

The Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts.

ALSO READ: Handset Maker POCO To Unveil New Smartphone “POCO X2” on February 4

Customers can simply enable Alexa Skill for FNP and say, “Alexa, open Ferns N Petals” followed by “I’d like to order a cake”, the company said. (IANS)