September 14, 2018
Great news to the UT Austin Portugal Program!
Frontera is the noun of the supercomputer coming to Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin. Expected to start operating in the summer of 2019, this super machine will be a very valuable tool for research in the science field, from astrophysics to zoology, further establishing the University of Texas at Austin’s leadership in advanced computing.
The $60 million award for this supercomputer acquisition and deployment came from the National Science Foundation (NSF), but there are other impressive numbers: if completed today, Frontera would be the fifth most powerful system in the world, the third fastest in the U.S. and the largest at any university.
In a statement, Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin, says that "UT is proud to serve the research community with the world-class capabilities of TACC, and we are excited to contribute to the many discoveries Frontera will enable”, which include, until 2024, analyses of particle collisions from the Large Hadron Collider, global climate modeling, improved hurricane forecasting and multi-messenger astronomy.
Since 2006, TACC has built and operated three supercomputers that debuted in the Top 10 most powerful systems in the world: Ranger (which operated until 2013), Stampede1 (which was donated to FCT by UT Austin and will be installed at the future Minho Advanced Computing Center in Braga, providing open access to national and international academic, research and industrial institutions, and to work closely with the Atlantic International Research Center and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center) and Stampede2 (currently the fastest university supercomputer).
To have an idea of this new supercomputer operating capacity, one must realize that to match what Frontera will compute in just one second, a person would have to perform one calculation every second for roughly one billion years. Frontera will be roughly twice as powerful as Stampede2, and 70 times faster than Ranger.
But the future goes even faster and TACC is already talking about “an even larger future leadership-class system, ten times faster than Frontera, to potentially be deployed as Phase 2 of the project”.