Blazing a New Path to Discovery at Texas Advanced Computing Center

The Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas formally launches its new Frontera supercomputer today — a system ranked at No. 5 on the latest TOP500 list.

There’s good cause for excitement today at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas, where the center is formally unveiling one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

This blazingly fast system, named Frontera, makes its debut at No. 5 on the latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.1 Even better, Frontera has the distinction of being the fastest supercomputer at any university.

At Dell Technologies, this is a system that is close to our hearts. Frontera is based on Dell PowerEdge C6420 servers, Dell Isilon unstructured data storage solutions and a lot of other amazing technologies. It includes Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory, CoolIT® Systems high-density Direct Contact Liquid Cooling and a high-performance Mellanox® HDR 200Gb/s InfiniBand interconnect.

To deliver its world-class levels of compute performance to scientists and engineers across the United States, Frontera draws on the power of more than 16,000 processors and 448,448 cores spread over 8008 compute nodes!

So just how fast is Frontera? This massive new machine achieved 23.5 PetaFLOPS on the high-performance LINPACK benchmark, a measure of the system’s floating-point computing power, according to TACC.  The main system’s theoretical peak performance will be 38.7 PetaFLOPS. The center says that to match what Frontera can compute in just one second, a person would have to perform one calculation every second for about a billion years.2

While they are amazing, those performance numbers don’t begin to tell the story of Frontera. What really matters is that Frontera, which takes its name from the Spanish word for “frontier,” will enable our nation’s top researchers to explore the frontiers of science at an incredibly large scale to drive the next generation of discoveries.

Frontera will help researchers blaze new paths to discovery in virtually all fields of science, from astrophysics to zoology. Some of the initial projects are running on Frontera are focused on understanding the influence of distant stars, eradicating emerging viruses, diagnosing and treating rare brain tumors, and creating a new generation of flexible solar photovoltaics.

I like the way in which TACC Executive Director Dan Stanzione summarizes the impact of Frontera on the problems we face. “Many of the frontiers of research today can only be advanced using computing,” Stanzione said. “Frontera will be an important tool to solve Grand Challenges that will improve our nation’s health, well-being, competitiveness, and security.”2

So, let’s push on, and work together to blaze new paths to discovery.

To learn more


  1. TOP500 List – June 2019.
  2. Texas Advanced Computing Center, “Frontera Named 5th Fastest Supercomputer in the World,” June 17, 2019.

About the Author: Thierry Pellegrino

Thierry Pellegrino is vice president of business strategy for Server and Infrastructure Systems at Dell EMC and general manager for Dell EMC’s high performance computing (HPC) business. A 20-year Dell veteran, Thierry is an experienced leader with a background in engineering, go-to-market, technology and strategy. During his tenure at Dell, Thierry led the first Dell converged infrastructure product (M1000e), assembled the Global OEM Custom Engineering organization, led technology strategy for the Dell and EMC combination. In his current role, he leads all aspects of the global HPC business for Dell EMC (engineering across the full portfolio, product management, go-to-market and enablement). Thierry also forms and shapes the business strategy direction for multiple value chain organizations tied to the Dell EMC server business for the next 5-10 years, working closely with product teams and the CTO organization. Thierry has a strong global background. Born and raised in France, he also speaks five languages. He spent his last 20 years in Austin, Texas, where he currently lives with his family.