Proposals sought for next-generation supercomputing technologies

Apr. 14, 2014

Proposals sought for next-generation supercomputing technologies

Don Johnston,, 925-423-4902

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have issued a request for proposals to further develop "extreme scale" supercomputer technology.

The latest request for proposals (RFP) is now available on the Web. Contracts will total about $100 million, and the funding period will be from July of this year to November 2016.

Proposals, under what is being called FastForward 2, will be due May 9. FastForward seeks proposals from any company interested in working on extreme scale node architectures or memory technologies. Companies currently funded under FastForward 1 may propose follow-on research under FastForward 2, and new research proposals and new companies for this program also are encouraged.

Under the FastForward Program, vendors from the computing industry are awarded research contracts to accelerate technologies critical to the development of next-generation, extreme scale supercomputers, which will provide the necessary simulation and computing capabilities to achieve DOE's missions of national defense, scientific research and energy security.

Proposals from industry are being sought in two principal areas: node architecture and memory technology. The node architecture focus area broadens the previous FastForward focus on processors to include the entire architecture of a compute node. Both the node hardware and any necessary enabling software are in scope. For example, if novel runtime techniques or programming models are needed to make a new node architecture usable, research into these technologies could be included in a proposal. The memory technology area focuses on technologies that could be used in multiple vendors' systems.

DOE and NNSA are using a "co-design" approach with vendors from industry working with scientists and engineers at DOE/NNSA national laboratories. FastForward, funded by DOE's Office of Science and NNSA, is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on behalf of seven national laboratories including: Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Argonne and Pacific Northwest. Technical experts from the participating national laboratories will evaluate and help select the proposals.

FastForward 2 will build on the work of the first program launched in 2012, which emphasized research in processors, memory and input/output (IO) -- the communication between computer processing systems and outside networks. The first FastForward program will conclude at the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.