In 2018, a new NSF-funded petascale computing system, Frontera, was awarded for deployment at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Frontera opens up new possibilities in science and engineering by providing computational capabilities that make it possible for investigators to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of scientific domains.
Frontera is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. It replaces the soon-to-be decommissioned Blue Waters system, as the leadership-class system in NSF’s cyberinfrastructure ecosystem.
Up to 80% of the available compute time on Frontera — more than 55 million node hours each year — will be made available through the NSF Petascale Computing Resource Allocations program. Early user access began in June 2019, and the system entered full production in September 2019.
A world-class team is partnering on the planning, deployment and operations of Frontera, led by faculty of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Science at The University of Texas at Austin. Academic partners include scientists from:
- Cornell University
- Princeton University
- University of California, Davis
- Stanford University
- The University of Chicago
- The University of Utah
- The Ohio State University
- The Georgia Institute of Technology
- Texas A&M
Frontera combines Dell EMC PowerEdge servers with 2nd generation Intel Xeon processors and Mellanox InfiniBand interconnects, and incorporates innovative storage and novel cooling systems. Technology Partners include:
- DataDirect Networks
- Green Revolution Cooling
Construction of the Frontera supercomputer in pictures
The last servers of the Stampede1 supercomputer were cleared for Frontera. Frontera will be much faster than Stampede, but Frontera uses only 1/3 the space (2,500 square feet).
Pipes were installed under the floor to carry the liquid from a nearby chilling station that helps cool Frontera's processors. This type of cooling is more energy efficient than just air cooling.
Stations were built on site to support the transformers that step down the power to Frontera.
Hundreds of pounds of electric cables were spooled out for Frontera's transformers (white), as the floor was readied with coolant and power connections for the first computer racks to arrive.
The first Frontera racks arrive. TACC staff pictured (L-R): Dave Cooper, Ariel Martinez, Junseong Heo.
The flash-based file servers from DataDirect Networks provide fast and hefty storage for Frontera, with 1.5 terabytes per second of total bandwidth and 60 petabytes of data storage.
Six Mellanox Quantum CS8500 core switches add 320 terabytes per second of switching capacity to the Mellanox HDR InfiniBand network to support all application communications between Frontera's 8,008 compute nodes.
The first of 91 compute racks arrived at TACC loaded with Intel 8280 Cascade Lake processors, the 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
Over 50 miles of network cables provide interconnect for over 8,200 cards, 182 top-of-rack switches, and six core switches. TACC staff pictured (L-R): Dennis Byrne, Laura Branch; (bottom) Junseong Heo, Dave Cooper, and David Carver.
Dozens of volunteers throughout the center helped unroll and place the InfiniBand network cables to the core switches.
Frontera will continue its testing and early user phase through the summer of 2019. TACC staff pictured: Sean Hempel.
The NSF-funded Frontera supercomputer at TACC debuted on the June 2019 Top500 supercomputer list ranked at #5 fastest in the world. This made the University of Texas at Austin home to the two fastest academic supercomputers in the U.S., Frontera and Stampede2 (#19).
Phase 2 Leadership-Class Computing Facility (LCCF)
The project planning effort for a Phase 2 system with at least 10x performance improvement will incorporate a community-driven process that will include leading computational scientists and technologists from around the country and leverage strategic public-private partnerships. Learn more >>
Acknowledging Use of Frontera
Please use the following statement when acknowledging use of computational time on Frontera, or help from the support team.
This research is part of the Frontera computing project at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Frontera is made possible by National Science Foundation award OAC-1818253.
Teams who have NSF Petascale Computational Resource (PRAC) Awards should also acknowledge those awards.
Dan Stanzione, John West, R. Todd Evans, Tommy Minyard, Omar Ghattas, and Dhabaleswar K. Panda. 2020. Frontera: The Evolution of Leadership Computing at the National Science Foundation. In Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC ’20), July 26–30, 2020, Portland, OR, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 11 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311790.3396656