U.S. Defense Department Grants Nvidia $25 Million to Develop Technologies for Exascale Supercomputers

Nvidia Gets $25 Million from DARPA to Develop Supercomputing Technologies

by Anton Shilov
08/10/2010 | 12:53 PM

A team led by Nvidia Corp. has been awarded a research grant of $25 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department's research and development arm, to address what the agency calls a "crisis in computing". In particular, Nvidia is expected to develop certain technologies that will help to create exascale supercomputers.


The four-year research contract, awarded under DARPA's ubiquitous high performance computing (UHPC) program, covers work to develop GPU technologies required to build the new class of exascale supercomputers which will be 1000-times more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers.

"This recognizes Nvidia's substantial investments in the field of parallel processing and highlights GPU computing's position as one of the most promising paths to exascale computing. We look forward to collaborating to develop programmable, scalable systems that operate in tight power budgets and deliver increases in performances that are many orders of magnitude above today's systems," said Bill Dally, Nvidia's chief scientist, senior vice president of researc, and the team's principal investigator.

The team - which also includes Cray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and six top U.S. universities - is being funded by DARPA to address the challenge that conventional computing architectures are reaching the practical limits of energy usage and will not meet the challenges of exascale computing. The research team plans to develop new software and hardware technology to dramatically increase computing performance, programmability and reliability.

In addition to the Nvidia-led team, DARPA awarded contracts to three other teams to study UHPC systems. Prototype systems are expected to be completed by 2018.

The UHPC program will develop the architectures and technologies that will provide the underpinnings, framework, and approaches for the resolution of power consumption, cyber resiliency, and productivity problems. The UHPC program will develop computer systems, from embedded to cabinet level, that have extremely high energy efficiency and are dependable and easily programmable. These systems will have dramatically reduced power consumption while delivering a thousand-fold increase in processing capabilities. Dependability technologies developed under the UHPC program will provide adaptable and hardened cyber resilient computer systems. Productivity will be significantly improved by developing scalable, highly programmable computer systems that will not require significant system expertise for the development of high performance applications.