- The National Science Foundation is providing the University of Texas at Austin with a $60 million grant to equip its Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) with the fifth most powerful supercomputer in the world — and the most powerful at any university.
- Officials said the Frontera supercomputer will be used beginning next summer to study climate patterns, hurricanes, astronomy, particle collision and a variety of other research initiatives. Researchers from top U.S. universities and leading tech companies — including Google, Microsoft and Amazon — will partner with UT Austin on Frontera projects.
- TACC has received several grants for supercomputers in the past, and on three occasions acquired computers that at the time were among the most powerful. Frontera is twice as powerful as the center's previously most powerful computer.
In its 17-year history, TACC has been involved in a wide variety of supercomputer projects, which officials there say also benefit students with unique opportunities to work with very sophisticated computers. Meanwhile, at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, undergraduate student researchers are helping develop software for several neuroscience projects.
The National Science Foundation, which funds computer research projects at a number of universities, has partnered with teams that developed the internet as well as Google and a variety of other initiatives related to cutting-edge computing. The Computing Research Association reported recently that Congress is expected to increase the NSF's budget by nearly 4% in the fiscal year 2019 to $8.18 billion.
The NSF-funded Stampede2 at UT Austin's TACC lab has been used to develop new ways to identify tumors, direct storm chasers who report on severe weather, predict earthquakes and study gravity. It was estimated to have the processing power of 100,000 desktop computers.
However, there have been some indications that universities, where having a supercomputer has long been a status symbol, are moving to cloud computing for some functions, or at least hiring experts to sort out their needs and consider both, often as a way to save money.