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AMD and HPE Win $600 Million Deal to Build Supercomputer for U.S. Department of Energy

By John Ballard - Updated Mar 5, 2020 at 10:15AM

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AMD is set to power one of the most powerful computers in the world.

On Wednesday, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD -6.04%) and Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE -5.91%) announced they had been awarded a $600 million deal to build a supercomputer for the U.S. Department of Energy that will be used for nuclear weapons modeling. This is a huge win for AMD, which has seen its shares double in value over the last year as it continues to experience robust demand for its chips. 

The computer is named "El Capitan" and will reportedly be about the size of two basketball courts. Delivery is expected by 2023. 

This deal gives AMD two wins out of three of the fastest supercomputers commissioned by the U.S. government and highlights the amazing comeback of the company under CEO Lisa Su, who took over in 2014. 

A central processing unit hovering above a glowing slot on a computer motherboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

AMD's momentum is for real

China and the U.S. are in a race to build faster exascale computer systems. Of the four most powerful exascale computers in the world, two are in the U.S. and two are in China. AMD won its first supercomputer win in a long time with Frontier last year, which has a processing speed of 1.5 exaflops, or 1.5 quintillion calculations per second. 

El Capitan will clock in at 2 exaflops and will be powered by AMD's upcoming "Genoa" central processor and four graphics processors. The graphics chips will enable the system to use artificial intelligence to speed up tasks. 

Powering two of the three fastest supercomputers under development by the U.S. government is a huge vote of confidence in AMD's technology. The AMD-powered El Capitan replaces the Sierra system, which was powered by NVIDIA's Volta chips. 

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