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Exascale Day celebrates supercomputing industry and its achievements

October 18 is Exascale Day. It’s the day we celebrate the people and organizations actively using supercomputing and computational science to change the world for the better.

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Once you add enough zeros to something, it’s stops meaning anything to most of us. Million, billion, trillion… bajillion. But with supercomputers the more zeros, the more eye-popping it gets.

Supercomputing performance is measured in FLOPS (floating point operations per second). The world’s fastest supercomputers today can reach hundreds of petaflops—or 1015 floating point operations per second. And by next year, the world’s fastest supercomputers will top an exaflops.

Exascale supercomputers will perform a quintillion calculations every second. That’s 1018 FLOPs—a billion billion or a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. To put that number in perspective, the Milky Way galaxy is 1 quintillion kilometers wide. It would take 40 years for 1 quintillion gallons of water to flow over Niagara Falls. And you’d need every single person on Earth calculating 24 hours a day for over four years to do what an exascale supercomputer can do in 1 second.

A quintillion is huge. So what can you do with that many zeros of computer performance?

Well, for one, you could download 100,000 HD movies in one second. Or, you could help solve the world’s most important and complex challenges. With exascale supercomputers, scientists and researchers will be able to make clean energy advancements, eliminate diseases, develop safer, more efficient vehicles, understand climate change, and more.

That’s what supercomputers do and have always done—help us answer today’s biggest questions and be ready for tomorrow’s even bigger ones. 

A lot of credit for life-changing technological advancements should go to supercomputers. But it’s the scientists and researchers—the visionaries who ask what if, why not, and what’s next—to whom we owe the biggest debt of gratitude.

That’s why we named October 18 “Exascale Day” (in a nod and wink to 1018 and some date formats). It’s the official day of recognition for the supercomputing and broader HPC communities. Supercomputing plays a role in our collective lives every day. And Exascale Day is an opportunity to celebrate the people and organizations actively using computational science to change the world for the better.

HPE Cray, our customers, and many others across the globe celebrated the inaugural Exascale Day last year. This year, we’ll do the same.

Between 2021 and 2023, we will have three HPE Cray exascale supercomputers coming online—the Aurora system at Argonne National Laboratory and Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), Frontier at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), and El Capitan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

At Argonne, researchers will be able to use simulation, data-intensive, and learning applications (machine and deep learning) to drive exascale-speed research in the fields of fusion reactor plasmas, computational fluid dynamics, neuroscience, and drug response prediction. Using Frontier, OLCF scientists will accelerate science and technology innovation in fields such as fusion energy, disease genetics, and materials science. And at LLNL, the US National Nuclear Security Administration will use El Capitan to improve the science and technology surrounding the maintenance and modernization of the US nuclear arsenal. 

From a single cabinet system to a supercomputer the fills an entire building, exascale technology will help us not only imagine the possibilities but make them happen. Argonne National Laboratory Director Paul Kerns captured the spirit of exascale computing and Exascale Day when he said, “Imagine a computer so powerful that it can predict future climate patterns, saving millions of people from drought, flood, and devastation. Or a computer so powerful that it can model a cancer cell with such accuracy that we can create a personalized treatment, just for you.” 

Join us on 10.18 as we celebrate—and thank—all the visionaries and leaders who ask what if, why not, and what’s next. You make the world better for all of us. Keep asking.

Read to learn more about exascale computing:

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Brandon Draeger
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author

Brandon_Draeger

Brandon leads the Compute Product Marketing teams for HPE and joined the company in January 2020 as part of the Cray acquisition. Prior to Cray, Brandon held leadership roles in engineering, product management, marketing, and strategy at Intel, Dell, and Symantec.

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