There hasn’t been a lot of actual information coming out since the UHPC awards were announced. This post by Intel CTO Justin Rattner doesn’t do much in the way of details, but he does outline some things we didn’t already know. I recommend a thorough read, but here are some highlights
Intel’s UHPC effort is unique in that DARPA and Intel are co-equal investors in the $49M research effort. The project will focus on new circuit topologies, new chip and system architectures, and new programming techniques to reduce the amount of energy required per computation by two to three orders of magnitude.
That $49M figure is news (to me anyway). Assuming that I correctly read Rattner’s statement, that means that DARPA is kicking in $24.5M over the four years. With the NVIDIA award at $25M, that’s $49.5M over two awards so far. This makes the $100M total figure that has been rumored so far seem a little low: if each of the hardware task winners get roughly $25M, that’s the $100M right there, and the benchmarks team still needs to be funded (refresh your memory about the structure of the award).
…Intel’s UHPC Principal Investigator, which is DARPA-speak for the lead researcher, is Shekhar Borkar, an Intel Fellow and currently the head of the Academic Programs and Research unit at Intel Labs. Shekhar and his team are taking a fresh look at everything involved in designing extreme scale systems to be sure we can achieve DARPA’s goals of being both energy efficient in the extreme as well as being highly programmable. The challenges are great, but so is the talent Shekhar has assembled to attack them. Beside our own world-class circuits and systems researchers, Intel’s partners include top computer science and engineering faculty at the University of Delaware, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, San Diego, as well as top industrial researchers at Reservoir Labs and ET International. Our UHPC program will also engage several leading manufacturers of compute-intensive systems, including SGI, Lockheed Martin, and Cray to review our work and help guide us to commercially practical, extreme-scale solutions. Other collaborators include Micron Technology on advanced memory chip design and Sandia National Laboratories on future applications development.
Interesting that Rattner calls out SGI in a list of commercial entities that includes Cray (recall that Cray is headlined on NVIDIA’s team). Not sure why Lockheed Martin gets a nod as a manufacturer of compute-intensive systems, but whatever.