ATS Seminar Series: Al Geist

The Advanced Technologies Section (ATS) of the National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL is a world leader in developing and deploying scientific and technical solutions for leadership-class computing environments. The R&D activities of ATS are organized around designing and deploying leadership class systems, developing artificial intelligence solutions for science and smart facilities of the future, and stewardship of data and workflows at scale to enable science. The ATS Seminar Series is a forum for learning from experts and engaging with collaborators to advance their scientific mission.

Seminar Title:

History of the Exascale Project and How Frontier Solves the Four Exascale Challenges

A decade ago, the HPC community identified four challenges that threatened to make it impossible to build a usable exascale computer. These were system power requirements, reliability, billion-way parallelism, and data movement given the growing memory wall.

In 2021, the first exascale computer, called Frontier, will be delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This talk describes the history and solutions to the four exascale challenges that make these computers possible. It begins with the many false starts such as Nexus/Plexus and SPEC/ABLE, then describes the attempts to solve the challenges through Fast Forward and ECP.

The talk shows how Frontier’s design overcomes the original exascale challenges.


AL GEIST, Chief Technical Officer

Dr. Al Geist is a Corporate Research Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is the Chief Technical Officer of the Exascale Computing Project, as well as the CTO of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and Chief Scientist for the Computer Science and Mathematics Division at ORNL. He is helping lead the acquisition of the Frontier exascale computer at ORNL. His recent research is on exascale computing and resilience needs of the hardware and software. He leads the ASCR Technical Council on Resilience.

At ORNL, Dr. Geist has published two books and over 200 papers in areas ranging from heterogeneous distributed computing, numerical linear algebra, parallel computing, collaboration technologies, solar energy, materials science, biology, and solid state physics.

Dr. Geist is one of the original developers of PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine), which became a worldwide de facto standard for heterogeneous distributed computing. He was also actively involved in the design of the Message Passing Interface (MPI-1 and MPI-2) standard. He was involved in the development of FT-MPI, a research prototype to explore how to make MPI applications fault tolerant.

Recorded Presentation:

Vimeo link:



Jun 14 2021


Eastern Daylight Time, UTC−04:00
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm




Arjun Shankar
(865) 574-2704


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