Alexander, Hultgren, Baldwin Introduce Supercomputing Legislation to Make U.S. Safer and More Competitive

Legislation would advance supercomputing technology that helps maintain nuclear stockpile, create jobs, map human heart

Posted on February 11, 2015

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“The United States faces a choice between falling further behind competitors like China, or advancing technology that … is essential to U.S. national security, competitiveness in science and technology and the ability of our free enterprise system to create the good-paying jobs of the future.” – Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON,  Feb. 11, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), along with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), today introduced bipartisan legislation that would jumpstart research into exascale supercomputing that they said is “critical to U.S. competitiveness and national security.” 

Alexander said: “The United States faces a choice between falling further behind competitors like China, or advancing technology that can make the United States safer and more competitive in a global, 21st-century economy. This legislation would resurrect the crucial technological advantage that has made our country dominant. Supercomputing is essential to U.S. national security, competitiveness in science and technology and the ability of our free enterprise system to create the good-paying jobs of the future. It has helped maintain our nuclear stockpile, enabled manufacturers to make better products and save money and even allowed scientists to map the human heart at one beat per second.” 

Hultgren said: “Massive gains in computing power are necessary to meet our national security, scientific, and health care needs, including testing our aging nuclear stockpile to modeling the human brain in order to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Exascale computing, exceeding the existing generation of super computing power by 10,000 percent, helps get us there. America is falling behind as China boasts the world’s fastest computer, and is accelerating their progress. Exascale computing represents an exciting new world of science and American leadership, and it’s up to us to seize it.” 

Baldwin said: “If our nation is going to build an economy that competes with the rest of the world, we must make a strong commitment to supporting innovation, science, research and technology. I’m proud to join Senator Alexander in introducing this bipartisan legislation to ensure that American computing innovation continues to lead the world, while also investing in the next generation of technology to keep our economy growing.” 

The ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2015 would create research partnerships between industry, universities and U.S. Department of Energy’s national labs to research and develop at least two exascale supercomputer architectures, with the goal of having a fully operational computer system that has reached “exascale” – a measure of speed that is beyond any other system in the world – by 2023. It authorizes funding for these partnerships and requires the department to provide regular status reports to Congress on the progress of the project. 

Currently, China has the world’s fastest supercomputer after surpassing U.S. capabilities in 2013. In addition to introducing this legislation, Alexander has supported a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM that will construct Summit, a supercomputer that will once again be the fastest in the world, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory by 2017.  The new supercomputer at Oak Ridge will have five times the performance as Titan, the current system, and will help Tennessee become a center for advanced manufacturing, creating thousands of good-paying jobs. 

The legislation announced today would further support supercomputing technology and build on the success of the High-End Computing Revitalization Act, which was introduced by Alexander and then-Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) in 2004 and developed the first leadership class facility at Oak Ridge for high-end supercomputing. Rep. Hultgren previously introduced the American Supercomputing Leadership Act, which was passed by the House in the previous Congress.

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