NVIDIA Receives $25M From DARPA To Build Supercomputers

NVIDIA isn't just a graphics company. Many only think of the company's GPU line, which is certainly their most forward segment in the industry. But they're also a software company, and they also make all sorts of other hardware (like the 3D Vision kit for example). They also operate in the high performance computing space.  Recently, the Tesla Personal Supercomputer made its debut, and clearly the company has a mind to create even more robust supercomputer systems.

DARPA, the U.S. Defense Department's research and development arm, just granted NVIDIA with a huge gift, and a huge responsibility. $25 million is headed the company's way, and it will be working with Cray, Inc., Oak Ridge National Labs and six top U.S. universities. So, why the big payment? DARPA wants NVIDIA to design a new supercomputer as a part of the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC ) program, but not just any supercomputer. They want a supercomputer that will be "1,000-times more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers."

Prototype machines are expected to be completed by 2018, but there's no official word on what all these units will be used for. We suspect we may never know, however, given the sensitive nature of U.S. defense. Maybe a little Crysis 4?

NVIDIA-Led Team Receives $25 Million Contract From DARPA to Develop High-Performance GPU Computing Systems

NVIDIA Team Includes Cray, Oak Ridge National Labs, Six Top U.S. Universities

SANTA CLARA, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 08/09/2010 -- A team led by NVIDIA has been awarded a research grant of $25 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department's research and development arm, to address what the agency calls a "crisis in computing."

The four-year research contract, awarded under DARPA's Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC ) program, covers work to develop GPU technologies required to build the new class of exascale supercomputers which will be 1,000-times more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers.

The team -- which also includes Cray Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and six top U.S. universities -- is being funded by DARPA to address the challenge that conventional computing architectures are reaching the practical limits of energy usage and will not meet the challenges of exascale computing. The research team plans to develop new software and hardware technology to dramatically increase computing performance, programmability and reliability.

"This recognizes NVIDIA's substantial investments in the field of parallel processing and highlights GPU Computing's position as one of the most promising paths to exascale computing," said Bill Dally, NVIDIA's chief scientist and senior vice president of research, and the team's principal investigator. "We look forward to collaborating to develop programmable, scalable systems that operate in tight power budgets and deliver increases in performances that are many orders of magnitude above today's systems."

"The DARPA UHPC program is attacking technical issues that are key to the future of high performance computing, from the embedded terascale to the exascale," said Steve Scott, Cray's senior vice president and CTO, and the Cray principal investigator on the team. "We are excited to be working with this team, and we believe the directions we are pursuing will lead to radical improvements to the state-of-the-art in the coming decade."

In addition to the NVIDIA-led team, DARPA awarded contracts to three other teams to study UHPC systems. Prototype systems are expected to be completed by 2018.