Cray has announced it’s entered a massive deal with Intel to build a new machine capable of reaching up to 180 petaflops. Current peak performance of the Tianhe-2, the most powerful supercomputer on the planet as of last November’s Top500 list, is just 54.9 petaflops. The massive new system will be built at the Argonne National Laboratory and are part of a joint collaboration between that facility, Oak Ridge, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The deal in question is actually for a pair of systems. The flagship supercomputer, Aurora, will be based on Cray’s “Shasta” architecture and will integrate Intel’s HPC framework. In practice, this means Xeon processors as CPUs and the successor to Knights Landing, Knights Hill. Little is known about Knights Hill — it isn’t expected until 2017 at the earliest, with a 10nm process, likely a modified Atom core (the upcoming Knights Landing will use a tweaked version of Intel’s 14nm Airmont).
The second system, Theta, appears to be more of a testbed and early prototype system, inasmuch as a 6 PFLOP system can be rightly called a testbed. Such performance would still be in the top 10 of supercomputers today. But Cray’s PR calls Theta “an early production system” and notes that Cray will have the option to deliver next-generation parallel storage systems for the supercomputer. This second system will be delivered in 2016.