The DOE's Office of Science awarded the contract to Atipa Technologies, a division of Microtech Computers that builds high-performance Linux systems for government agencies and universities.
The new supercomputer is designed to operate at a peak processing speed of 3.4 petaflops, 20 times faster than PNNL's four-year-old Chinook supercomputer. That should put it into the top 20 supercomputers in the world, according to PNNL.
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The system will be comprised of 196,000 Intel processing cores combined with Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessors, based on the company's Many Integrated Core architecture, and has 2.7 petabytes of usable storage.
The supercomputer will be optimized for climate and chemistry simulations and biological analyses. It will be used for research in climate and environmental science, chemical processes and biology-based fuels, according to PNNL.
In biology, "more computing power is like having more pixels in a picture," said Scott Baker, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab's biology science lead, in a written statement. "We'll be able to look at proteins and complex biological interactions more realistically. This will allow us to better understand and control organisms like microbes so that we can develop new renewable fuels."
The new computer is scheduled to be operating by October. About 400 scientists use the lab's Chinook system.
The DOE operates three of the top 10 supercomputers in a ranking of the top 500 supercomputer sites. Topping the list is Oak Ridge National Lab's Titan, which is rated at a peak of 27 petaflops.
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