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AMD Gets $3.1M for Exascale Computing Research

The money from the DOE is aimed at research into interconnect architectures needed for exascale computing.

Advanced Micro Devices is receiving $3.1 million from the Department of Energy as part of the federal government's push toward exascale computing.

The money is part of DOE's Extreme-Scale Computing Research and Development Program, known as DesignForward. The program comes on the heels of a related DOE program called FastForward, which focused on research and development around processor and memory technologies related to exascale computing. AMD last year received $12.6 million for research as part of FastForward.

DesignForward, jointly funded by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration, targets work around interconnect architectures and other technologies that support data transfer capabilities in extreme-scale computing environments, according to AMD officials.

"This award will enable AMD to continue important research to help realize the enormous potential of extreme-scale computing," Alan Lee, corporate vice president of research and advanced development at AMD, said in a statement. "We believe that our expertise in processors, memory, and interconnect technology can be leveraged for this groundbreaking research in large-scale systems."

Exascale computing offers the promise of being able to run computations hundreds of times faster than current computers, while only requiring slightly more power, according to AMD officials. AMD, other tech vendors and the federal government are aiming to reach exascale computing by 2020, and the subject has become a key point of discussion during the twice-yearly SC supercomputing shows.

For example, at the SC '13 event in Denver this week, Intel officials talked about their efforts around the company's Xeon Phi platform, which they said will mean faster processing times, less bandwidth and smaller systems, which are all key elements in the push toward exascale computing. Intel also is opening parallel computing centers around the world to help get workloads ready for parallel computing.

AMD acquired a high-end computing fabric when it bought microserver maker SeaMicro in February 2012 for $334 million. SeaMicro's technology also includes the Freedom Fabric interconnect architecture. For the DOE, AMD's research is targeting more efficient and scalable systems while minimizing power consumption.

AMD's Lee also said the company's role in creating the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation will help with the DesignForward effort, "offering a mechanism to share our insights to benefit the industrywide advancement of standard, open systems."

The HSA Foundation was formed along with ARM, Texas Instruments, Imagination Technologies and other vendors to create architecture specs for chips and systems that run in heterogeneous environments, which leverage both CPUs and GPU accelerators. The work around heterogeneous computing was a key focus of AMD's Developer Summit earlier this month.