The objective of the FastForward program is to initiate partnerships with multiple companies to accelerate the R&D of critical component technologies needed for extreme-scale computing. It is recognized that the broader computing market will drive innovation in a direction that may not meet DOE’s mission needs. Many DOE applications place extreme requirements on computations, data movement, and reliability. FastForward has funded innovative new accelerated R&D of technologies targeted for productization in the 5–10 year timeframe. The period of performance for the FastForward program is two years, with the intent to establish an ongoing program for successful projects to continue innovation in these and additional technology areas.
In 2011, the FastForward RFP solicited innovative R&D proposals in the areas of processor, memory, and storage, and I/O that will maximize energy and concurrency efficiency while increasing the performance, productivity, and reliability of key DOE extreme-scale applications from both the NNSA and the Office of Science. The goal is to begin addressing long-lead time items that will impact extreme-scale HPC systems later this decade. Technology roadmaps, as they exist today, threaten to have a hugely disruptive and costly impact on development of HPC applications and ultimately a negative impact on the productivity of DOE scientists.
While DOE’s extreme-scale computer requirements are a driving factor, these projects also demonstrate the potential for technology adoption by broader segments of the market outside of DOE supercomputer installations. This public-private partnership between industry and the DOE, initiated with FastForward, will aid the development of technology that reduces economic and manufacturing barriers to constructing exaflop-sustained systems, but also further DOE’s goal that the selected technologies have the potential to impact low-power embedded, cloud/datacenter, and midrange HPC applications. This ensures that DOE’s investment furthers a sustainable software/hardware ecosystem supported by applications across the HPC market and the broader IT industry. FastForward investments will result in an increase in DOE’s ability to leverage commercial developments for future systems.