Design Forward

The objective of the DesignForward program is to initiate partnerships with multiple companies to accelerate the R&D of critical technologies needed for extreme-scale computing. It is recognized that the broader computing market will drive innovation in a direction that may not meet DOE’s mission needs. Many DOE applications place extreme requirements on computations, data movement, and reliability. DesignForward seeks to fund innovative new and/or accelerated R&D of technologies targeted for productization in the 5–10 year timeframe. The period of performance for any subcontract resulting from this request for proposal (RFP) will be two years. The consortium expects to establish an ongoing program to continue innovation in these and additional technology areas. Contracts awarded through this RFP process may be eligible for additional funding to add work scope to accelerate further the critical technology R&D if Congress approves funding for this purpose.  Due to the focus on extreme-scale applications, overall time to solution is also an important consideration. The goal is to begin addressing long-lead time items that will impact extreme-scale DOE systems later this decade. Technology roadmaps, as they exist today, threaten to have a hugely disruptive and costly impact on development of DOE applications and ultimately a negative impact on the productivity of DOE scientists.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation must address the impact of the proposed R&D on both DOE extreme-scale mission applications as well as the broader HPC community. Offerors are expected to leverage the DOE Co-Design Centers to ensure solutions are aligned with DOE needs. While DOE’s extreme-scale computer requirements are a driving factor, these projects must also exhibit the potential for technology adoption by broader segments of the market outside of DOE supercomputer installations. This public-private partnership between industry and the DOE, initiated with DesignForward, will aid the development of technology that reduces economic and manufacturing barriers to constructing exaflop-sustained systems, but also further DOE’s goal that the selected technologies have the potential to impact low-power embedded, cloud/datacenter, and midrange HPC applications. This ensures that DOE’s investment furthers a sustainable software/hardware ecosystem supported by applications across not only HPC but the broader IT industry. This will result in an increase in the DOE’s ability to leverage commercial developments. It is not DOE's intent to fund the engineering of near-term capabilities that are already on existing product roadmaps. 

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