Blue Waters supercomputer (NCSA)

NSF looks to future-proof high-performance computing

The National Science Foundation is looking for home for the next generation of high-performance computing.

In a request for proposals to colleges and universities, NSF said it is looking for a high-performance computing system that can grow into a leadership-class computing facility.

Given scientists’ increasing demand for computational resources and the rapidly evolving technology environment, NSF wants to ensure large-scale computational support will be available for researchers whose long-term projects extend beyond the lifetime of a single HPC system.

“The deployment of a leadership-class facility can provide this visibility into longer-range plans for large-scale computing, enabling science teams to confidently adapt, evolve, and create new approaches in their computational techniques to push the frontiers of science and engineering,” NSF said in its RFP.

As a first step toward such a facility, NSF is asking for a Phase 1 system that supports a broad range of computational and data-intensive workflows requiring the highest capabilities in terms of scale, throughput and data analytics.  The system must offer at least a two- to three-fold time-to-solution performance improvement over the Blue Waters supercomputer installed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The petascale-level, Cray supercomputer-based Blue Waters is deployed for  “grand challenge” problems in areas as diverse as astrophysics, space weather modeling, neuroscience, advanced materials and drug discovery.

Besides delivery of a robust HPC system and facility, NSF also wants information on how such a system can lead to the design of a Phase 2 leadership-class system. Proposers must describe how the Phase 1 system will support as future frontier applications and connect with external resources and national networks.

Subject to availability of funds, a total of $60 million is available for this five-year project.

More information is available here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA from West Chester University and an MA in English from the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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