Introduction to Frontera

Frontera is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through award #1818253, Computing for the Endless Frontier. It is the largest cluster dedicated to open science in the United States and is the Texas Advanced Computing Center's latest flagship system. Frontera enters production in early summer 2019, building on the successes of the Stampede1 and Stampede2 systems.

Frontera provides a balanced set of capabilities that supports both capability and capacity simulation, data-intensive science, visualization, and data analysis, as well as emerging applications in AI and deep learning. Blue Waters and other cyberinfrastructure users in the open science community will find a familiar programming model and tools in a system that is productive today while serving as a bridge to the exascale future.

The design is anchored by Intel's top-of-the-line (at deployment) Xeon processor, Cascade Lake © (CLX). With a higher clock rate than other recent HPC processors, Intel's CLX processor delivers effective performance in the most commonly used and accessible programming model used in science applications today. Frontera's multi-tier storage system is designed to enable science at unprecedented scales with nearly 60 PB of Lustre-based storage, including 3 PB of flash storage for data-driven science applications that depend upon fast access to large amounts of data.

Frontera Racks
Frontera Racks

Frontera is also breaking new ground in its support for science applications. During the first six months of operation the system will provide support for users to run jobs using containers, immediately making tens of thousands of container-ready applications accessible on Frontera without the need for users to find and build their own versions.

Following the initial CPU-only rollout, the system will also provide users with access to the latest accelerator cards from NVIDIA with outstanding single-precision support especially targeted for machine-learning workloads. Later this summer a separate system will enter production to provide users with access to the latest double-precision HPC cards from NVIDIA, designed to serve more "traditional" science and engineering simulation needs.

Frontera's design also includes a totally new integration with web services, and will provide users with new options for data storage and access to emerging computer technologies. The award includes an innovative partnership with the three major commercial cloud providers, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, to provide users with additional high-integrity storage, sustainable archive options, and to keep the project regularly refreshed with novel computing technologies. Cloud integration is expected to be available to users in the second six months of operation.