Nvidia has announced that it as secured a $12.4 million contract over the next two years from the US Department of Energy. In its announcement, the company focuses on the need for a "hetereogeneous" model of super computing, which is only fitting given that AMD, Intel, and Whamcloud will also be part of the FastForward DOE program. The purpose is to research exascale computing and will focus on energy efficiency as it tried to achieve the goal of a system that's much faster than current super computers.
Exascale systems will perform a quintillion floating point calculations per second (that’s a billion billion), making them 1,000 times faster than a one petaflop supercomputer. The world’s fastest computer today is about 16 petaflops.
The full extend of the FastForward contracts haven't been fully revealed, but in addition to Nvidia's $12.4 million and AMD's $12.6 million, Intel has reportedly received $19 million and Whamcloud has recevied an unknown amount. Each company will be pursuing a slightly different line of research, but once the two-year contracts are up the real work will begin: actually funding, designing, and building exascale computers.