UT Wordmark Primary UT Wordmark Formal Shield Texas UT News Camera Chevron Close Search Copy Link Download File Hamburger Menu Time Stamp Open in browser Load More Pull quote Cloudy and windy Cloudy Partly Cloudy Rain and snow Rain Showers Snow Sunny Thunderstorms Wind and Rain Windy Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter email alert map calendar bullhorn

UT News

Texas Advanced Computing Center To Lead Groundbreaking NSF Computing Facility

Two color orange horizontal divider
TACC employees work on the network cabling above the racks of Frontera. From left to right: Junseong Heo, Dave Cooper, David Carver.

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin as the nation’s Leadership-Class Computing Facility (LCCF), which will revolutionize America’s computational research for the next decade. The NSF’s designation and initial investment of $457 million for construction will continue to build upon TACC’s 20 years of leadership in providing advanced computing resources to the open science community. It moreover constitutes an investment in continuity and sustainability for research conducted in all fields of America’s scientific community and meeting increased demand for computational solutions.

“We are experiencing a trend where an exponentially increasing number of problems can be solved by computing in general and artificial intelligence in particular. These are great strengths of our University. This investment will enable UT to make even greater impacts by addressing more challenges using AI, computational science and other disciplines,” said President Jay Hartzell. “We are excited about the privilege to continue in our role as an enabler of work that serves and improves society, and we are grateful to NSF and to our longtime partner in advanced computing, Dell Technologies. We are especially grateful to Congressman John Carter for his leadership in securing this funding.”

UT and TACC have long been recognized as the home of one of the nation’s leading academic supercomputing centers. UT researchers have modeled the coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic, provided computing to confirm the existence of gravitational waves, and increased the speed and accuracy of storm surge forecasts in hurricanes. Earlier this year, UT announced the launch of the Center for Generative AI, powered by a new GPU computing cluster, among the largest in academia. And, TACC’s Frontera and Lonestar6 were among six supercomputers selected for NSF’s National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource pilot.

The partnership further advances UT’s 10-year strategic plan to become the highest-impact public research university in the world. The plan has a particular focus on Technology and Society as one of three primary research areas, and UT has declared 2024 as its “Year of AI.”

Computation — through large-scale simulation, data analysis and artificial intelligence applications — is essential across many areas of research. LCCF is envisioned as a distributed computational facility to enable transformative discoveries for broad classes of science and engineering applications. The project also includes a wide range of education and public outreach plans to grow the future science and engineering workforce and ensure that the nation benefits from access to the facility.

“LCCF represents a pivotal step forward in our mission to support transformative research across all fields of science and engineering,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “This facility will provide the computational resources necessary to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, enabling researchers to push the boundaries of what is possible.”

“In recognition of the ubiquitous importance of computing across the sciences, NSF has made large-scale investments in supercomputing for nearly four decades,” said Dan Stanzione, the executive director of TACC and principal investigator for the new facility. “With the rise of AI, the role of computing in the process of scientific discovery has expanded even more widely. This new facility represents a sea change in the way NSF invests in large-scale computing — a sustained investment on a time scale that matches the lifetime of other large scientific instruments and collaborations. Together with our partners at UT and around the country, this facility will provide a new class of cyberinfrastructure services — spanning machines and people — to researchers around the world to advance science and advance society.”

LCCF is expected to begin operations during 2026 and will deploy the largest academic supercomputer dedicated to open-scientific research in the NSF portfolio. The supercomputer, Horizon, will provide 10x performance improvement for simulation over the current NSF Leadership-Class Computing system, Frontera, also housed at TACC, and meet the unique scientific requirements of the NSF community.

For AI applications, the leap forward will be even larger with Horizon, with more than 100x improvement over Frontera. Horizon will include a significant investment in specialized accelerators to enable state-of-the-art AI research and more general-purpose processors to support the diverse needs for simulation-based inquiry across all scientific disciplines. In addition to Horizon, LCCF will provide a range of large-scale data storage systems and interactive computing capabilities.

Beyond the hardware, the project will deploy a wide suite of software and services collectively designed to maximize the utility of LCCF and enable new usage modes for broad classes of applications. Access to the facility will be open to all scientists and engineers nationwide, with allocations to the facility determined through open peer-reviewed processes.

In addition to being home to Frontera, currently the fastest supercomputer on a university campus, TACC also operates several other high-performance systems used to process, analyze and visualize many types of data, and brings together a variety of collaborators across the nation. The LCCF will collaborate with four distributed science centers to leverage the deep expertise within the nation’s cyberinfrastructure ecosystem:

  • Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative at the AUC Consortium, a collaboration of four historically Black colleges and universities: Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine.
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego.

These partnerships will enhance the geographical footprint of the LCCF, ensuring that researchers across the country have access to its resources and services. In addition to the distributed centers deploying hardware resources, The Ohio State University will be a key contributor in advancing the software stack for high-performance networking, and Cornell University will aid in workforce development.