Next Frontier in High Performance Computing to Usher in New Chapter in Scientific Discovery

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today in introducing legislation to speed the development of computers that are faster than 50 million laptops combined.  The new technology would be useful in computation-intensive research areas such as physics, earth science, national security, biology, engineering, climate modeling, aerospace and energy.


The Department of Energy High-End Computing Improvement Act of 2012 (S. 3459) supports ongoing high performance computing (HPC) at the department and accelerates efforts to tackle the next great challenge in HPC: “exascale.” (Exascale refers to computing capabilities far beyond those that currently exist – computers 1,000 times more powerful than today’s top supercomputers.)


Sen. Durbin:  “High performance computers are used to solve some of the most complex problems facing our country. Our nation’s premier research labs, like Illinois’ Argonne and Fermi, have led the world in using supercomputers to drive scientific and technological innovation. This legislation will help ensure that the United States remains a leader in high performance computing, and will boost U.S. competitiveness in virtually every sector of our economy—including the manufacturing, science, and financial services industries.”


Sen. Bingaman:  “America’s leadership in high performance computing is essential to a vast range of national priorities in science, energy, environment, health and national security.  For decades the U.S. has been a leader in HPC, thanks to collaborative efforts led by DOE and national laboratories, academia and industry.  Investments in HPC have facilitated extraordinary scientific and technological advances which have strengthened America’s economy and contributed to its national security.”


Sen. Alexander:  “We are introducing this bill because the nation that leads the world in high-performance computing will have a huge competitive advantage in areas like medical research, energy, national defense, and manufacturing. Results such as a smarter transportation system, more efficient energy production, and lower manufacturing costs will mean better jobs in Tennessee and across the country.”


Major governmental investment in HPC programs in Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and the European Union is challenging U.S. leadership in HPC, and the race to exascale computing is on.  S. 3459 updates the Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004 to preserve the department’s HPC and to distinguish the exascale initiative from other high-end computing efforts.  The DOE has indicated that funding levels within 3459 will support the exascale initiative through fiscal year 2015.   The resulting technological advances will further support Federal priorities in research and national security, strengthen U.S. high-tech competitiveness and drive economic growth.