The largest academic supercomputer in the world will support researchers in nearly every field of science over its lifetime

Technology

AUSTIN, TX (WLNS) – Today, the University of Texas at Austin launched the fastest supercomputer at any university and the fifth most powerful system in the world.

Frontera is the result of a $60 million investment by the National Science Foundation to advance the next generation of leadership class computing.

Frontera was built in early 2019 and achieves 23.5 PetaFLOPS, one thousand million million floating-point operations-per-second.

Frontera has already allowed more than three dozen teams to conduct research on a range of topics from black hole physics to climate modeling to drug design, employing simulation, data analysis and artificial intelligence at a scale not previously possible.

“Scientific challenges demand computing and data at the largest and most complex scales possible. That’s what Frontera is all about,” said Jim Kurose, assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at NSF. “Frontera’s leadership-class computing capability will support the most computationally challenging science applications that U.S. scientists are working on today.”

Olexandr Isayev, a chemist from the University of North Carolina, used Frontera to run more than 3 million atomic force field calculations in less than 24 hours, a major achievement in high-speed quantum computation.

“We’re really looking forward to running large-scale calculations that were not possible before,” said Isayev.

Frontera has more than 16,000 processors and nearly half a million cores, connected by a 200 gigbit-per-second high-speed network.

Frontera will operate for at least five years and will support hundreds of research projects and thousands of researchers in nearly every field of science over its lifetime.

It is expected to have a major impact on natural hazards modeling like predicting the path and intensity of storms, genomics including precision agriculture to feed a growing world population, energy research from fusion to solar power, astrophysics like gravitational wave modeling and materials sciences such as developing new molecules for medicine as well as engineering.

Projects will be selected through a competitive application process and researchers will need to show that they need a computer at the scale of Frontera to solve their problems.

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