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house Bill H.R. 2495

Building More Super Computers

Argument in favor

America’s computing power is stagnant. Building a exascale system will have major benefits for national security, health care, engineering and other fields of science.

Argument opposed

Creating an exascale system will require a comprehensive and costly transformation in computing that could take years to implement, and even longer before benefits are ever gleaned.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed September 8th, 2014
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    IntroducedJune 25th, 2013

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What is House Bill H.R. 2495?

This act would authorize the development of more powerful computing systems for advanced scientific and engineering research.

Specifically, the Department of Energy (DOE) would create an “exascale computing system.” Exascale systems would increase a computer's processing power one thousandfold (compared to current petascale computers). For context, this is level of computer processing that is close to the level of neural activity in the human brain.  

To create this system, the Secretary of Energy would:

  • Coordinate the creation of an advanced computing system for the DOE, used to integrate research and development projects.
  • Partner with universities and labs dedicated to scientific, medical and industrial research, as well as integrate research between DOE labs.
  • Conduct research into technologies that reduce power needs for computers, and that improve memory, storage space, and bandwidth.
  • Co-design activities to advance exascale computing platforms. In plain English, this means developing the algorithms, codes and computer technology that would form the body of an exascale system.
  • Green light any software or hardware upgrades needed to produce a practical exascale system.
  • Write a plan for Congress before beginning the first phase of the project. This should include cost projections, technical challenges, and an assessment of the scientific advancements that can be expected from investing in an exascale system.


American universities, computing industries, The Department of Energy, and current supercomputers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2495

A CBO cost estimate is not available.

More Information

Of Note:

Creating an exascale system would vastly increase the power of computing processes. Right now, however, it’s strictly theoretical. Exascale systems would require a radical change in the traditional way computing is done.

One of the biggest challenges to constructing an exascale system is the sheer amount of data that would have to be stored and moved. To get a sense of the scale, it’s helpful to look at FLOPS, otherwise known as Floating-point Operations Per Second, which measure the performance of a computing system by looking at the instructions being issued each second. In an exascale system, each exaflop would really be 10 quintillion FLOPs. That kind of computing would require roughly 100 megawatts of power, the equivalent of the energy needed to power tens of thousands of homes.

So, how likely is it that an exascale system will be developed? It’s not clear, but the outlook for the immediate future is not good. The Deputy Director of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at University of California, Berkeley bet $2,000 that an exascale system won’t be achieved before 2020.


Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Press Release

Extreme Tech

(Photo Credit: Andy Field (Field Office))


American Super Computing Leadership Act

Official Title

To amend the Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004 to improve the high-end computing research and development program of the Department of Energy, and for other purposes.

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