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US Government Working with Intel and Cray to Develop Nation’s Fastest Computer by 2021

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

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INTEL, US
FILE- 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.

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.

intel, US
FILE – 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.

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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

Apple Mulling to Buy Intel’s Modem Business: Report

Apple is reportedly looking to buy Intel’s modem division since last year but could not strike a deal

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

Apple is still mulling to acquire Intel’s failed Germany-based modem business, The Information has reported citing sources.

This comes at a time when the chip-making giant considers selling its struggling modem business in bits and pieces.

Apple is focusing on one of the strongest pieces of the modem business. While Intel’s modem group is spreading across the world, its foundation is in Germany, where the chip maker Infineon, whose modem operations Intel bought in 2011 for $1.4 billion, The Information media outlet reported on Tuesday.

Any deal between the two companies is likely to send hundreds of Intel’s modem engineers to the iPhone maker.

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

Apple is reportedly looking to buy Intel’s modem division since last year but could not strike a deal.

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Apple has already poached Intel modem engineers. Meanwhile, Intel is also looking to completely exit the 5G smartphone modem business as soon as possible, according to tech website Tom’s Hardware. (IANS)