Office of Fossil Energy

The Role of High Performance Computing in Energy Research

October 3, 2018

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With so many of our personal electronic devices fitting right within our pockets, in can be hard to imagine that there are computers that still take up entire rooms. But, supercomputers do just that—and with their immense size, comes immense computing power.

Made up of thousands of computer processors and hundreds of computer servers in one machine, these powerful machines are able to perform calculations at dizzying speeds. For example, the world’s current fastest supercomputer, Summit, which resides at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, can do 200 quadrillion (200,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second at its peak!

In June 2018, the TOP500 list of supercomputers named five other DOE supercomputers, in addition to Summit, among the top ten machines in the world.

Because of their incredible processing capabilities, supercomputers enable scientists at DOE’s national laboratories to further their research and development (R&D) in a number of areas. Known as high performance computing (HPC), supercomputers allow scientists to do more advanced modeling, simulation, and data analysis that will help them bring developing technologies to market more quickly.

Due to the value of HPC in R&D, DOE has created an initiative designed to bring HPC opportunities to companies in the private sector.  As part of the High Performance Computing for (HPC4) Energy Innovation Initiative, the Office of Fossil Energy (FE) is leading the HPC4 Materials (HPC4Mtls) Program, with support from the Office of Energy Efficiency for Renewable Energy, the Office of Science, and the National Laboratories.

Last month, FE announced the selections for the first-round solicitation under this program.

Through the HPC4Mtls program, companies will gain access to some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.  The fossil energy industry, in particular, has much to gain from using HPC in its technology development. And by making HPC more accessible to more of its industry partners, FE hopes to accelerate the transformation of fossil energy research even more.