El Capitan Supercomputer Detailed: AMD CPUs & GPUs To Drive 2 Exaflops of Compute

Back in August, the United States Department of Energy and Cray announced plans for a third United States exascale supercomputer, El Capitan. Scheduled to be installed in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in early 2023, the system is intended primarily (but not exclusively) for use by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), who uses supercomputers in their ongoing nuclear weapons modeling. At the time the system was announced, The DOE and LLNL confirmed that they would be buying a Shasta system from Cray (now part of HPE), however the announcement at the time didn’t go into any detail about what hardware would actually be filling one of Cray’s very flexible supercomputers.

But as of today, the wait is over. This afternoon the DOE and HPE are announcing the architectural details of the supercomputer, revealing that AMD will be providing both the CPUs and accelerators (GPUs), as well as revising the performance estimate for the supercomputer. Already expected to be the fastest of the US’s exascale systems, El Capitan was originally commissioned as a 1.5 exaflop system seven months ago. However thanks to some late configuration changes, the DOE now expects the system to reach 2 exaflops once it’s fully installed, which would cement its place at the top of the US’s supercomputer inventory.