The US Department of Energy (DOE) has started work on its latest supercomputer, Kestrel.

The new high-performance computer will have 44 petaflops of capacity, making it five and a half times more powerful that the DOE’s predecessor supercomputer, Eagle, which offered eight petaflops.

– Joe Delnero, NREL

DOE will by using Kestrel’s high-performance computing (HPC) to advance energy technologies currently being explored by multiple Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs.

Kestrel, like Eagle, will be housed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. In a LinkedIn post, NREL said: “Kestrel is the flagship supercomputer dedicated to the clean energy transition and will enable the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), US Department of Energy research community to apply cutting-edge simulations and harness artificial intelligence to advance the EERE mission.”

Kestrel is being built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and will have 231,603 cores with 2,145 CPU nodes, and 138 GPU nodes. The supercomputer will be fully integrated with NREL’s warm-water waste heat recovery system.

The Kestrel supercomputer was first announced in December 2021, where it was announced that the HPC will be based on an HPE Cray Ex machine and composed of Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon Scalable processors and Nvidia’s A100Next Tensor Core GPUs.

Phase one of build-out has begun, and at its completion Kestrel will be fully operational. Phase two will see the implementation of the GPU nodes, and is expected to be done in Q3 of 2023.

“Supercomputers like Kestrel are critical to the energy transition,” said acting assistant secretary Alejandro Moreno, DOE. “Kestrel will enable the EERE research community to apply cutting-edge simulations and harness artificial intelligence to advance affordable, reliable, clean energy technologies at the scale we need to reach our country’s climate and energy goals.”

The DOE manages a number of supercomputing facilities across the US, including Frontier, the first confirmed exascale supercomputer and number one on the Top500 list of most powerful supercomputers. Two other exascale computers under development, Aurora at Argonne National Laboratory and El Capitan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will also be managed by the DOE.

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