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Cray to support US Department of Energy El Capitan exascale programme

Shasta platform will be used to expand traditional supercomputing to support complex workflows

Technology from Cray is to be used in a project by the US Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to build a third US exascale system. Dubbed El Capitan, the system will be sited at LLNL.

The system will use Cray’s Shasta technology, which the supercomputer firm said supports extremely heterogeneous workloads.

“The Shasta software used with the El Capitan system expands traditional supercomputing to support the complex workflows and numerous 3D studies necessary to unlock the full potential of exascale computing,” said Bill Goldstein, lab director at LLNL.

“The flexibility and extensibility of El Capitan’s software and hardware environment will enable the NNSA laboratories to explore and develop capabilities that leverage the combination of AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning with modelling and simulation to accelerate time-to-solution for our national security codes. These technologies could apply equally well to multi-physics codes employed outside of the national security domain.”

Steve Conway, COO and senior vice-president of research at Hyperion Research, said: “Shasta is designed to support extremely heterogeneous workloads, not just from science and engineering, but also from the growing contingent of enterprises that acquire supercomputers to outcompete their rivals in the new era of digital transformation and AI.”

Cray has also unveiled a new software platform, which it says extends traditional high-performance computing (HPC) batch workflow scheduling for modelling and simulation. It said the the platform is open and offers standardised and supported APIs (application programming interfaces) for integration, which can be used to provide interoperability with non-Cray systems and enable data access.

The new platform includes Kubernetes container orchestration to support converged HPC and AI workflows and adds support for multi-tenancy between HPC and AI partitions and sub-partitioning within AI jobs, which enables workflow to be isolated.

Cray said it also offers highly resilient containerised services with separate compute and management planes to minimise planned and unplanned downtime.

Peter Ungaro, president and CEO at, Cray, said: “With our new software platform, Cray is delivering a fully featured, extensible software and tools environment that performs like a supercomputer and runs like a cloud. The same Cray technology that powers exascale systems can be delivered in a single, low-cost rack, ready to integrate into any datacentre environment.”

Read more about exascale computing

  • The datacentre industry is in a state of flux, as new and emerging tech trends highlight hardware and performance shortcomings in legacy sites, prompting operators to rethink how they kit out theirs.
  • HPE’s decision to acquire supercomputing pioneer Cray for $1.3bn serves to highlight the growing importance of high-performance computing (HPC) deployments in the enterprise market.

Read more on Containers

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