What is Government Spending on HPC?

Published: October 03, 2019

Big DataSupercomputing

Deltek found that federal agencies spent nearly $151M from FY 2016 to 2018 in high performance computing obligations.

As the influx of data continues to mount in conjunction with demands for federal agencies to utilize their data strategically, the need for processing power and speed is also growing. High performance computing (HPC) is a powerful set of tools helping the federal government across various industries. Federal HPC initiatives range from processing meteorological data at NOAA to biomedical research at NIH and advance capabilities at DOE laboratories. For Defense, HPC is used for research and at classification levels for national security. In HPC, it is not uncommon for interagency partnerships to exist to help accelerate computing of government data.

In recent news, the Air Force and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory entered into a contract with Cray, Inc. for a new system to bring supercomputing-as-a-service to improve weather forecasting for global Air Force and operations. Additionally, DOE announced in August that a $600M contract with Cray was signed to help build NNSA’s first exascale supercomputer to face 21st century nuclear security threats.

But how much has the federal government spent on HPC and what does the future of the HPC market look like?

Deltek examined contract obligations from the last three full fiscal years and identified the line items describing HPC and HPC-related requirements.  As a result, a $151M HPC market was determined for the federal space:

Source: FPDS, Deltek

While these numbers likely lean more on the conservative side of things due to limitations in federal reporting, digging deeper into the data helps lend a few worthwhile points in the HPC market:

  • HPC federal spending increased nearly 43% from FY 2018 to FY 2018
  • HPC-related hardware obligations total $76M, nearly 50% of the total HPC market, followed by services with $72M and software with $4M
  • Defense spending in HPC outpaces that of Civilian, totaling $111M vs. $40M
  • The top five agencies in spend: Army ($59M), Navy ($33M), Air Force ($14M), Energy ($10M) and NASA ($9M) make up 83% of the federal HPC market
  • The nearly $17M increase from FY 2016 to FY 2017 is largely due to additional purchases at Army for HPC hardware

Research and Development

In research and development, the Network and Information Research and Development Program (NITRD) identifies $1.3B for FY 2020 in the High-Capability Computing Infrastructure and Applications (HCIA) category. Among the programs listed for HCIA are high-capability computing resources for biomedical research with the Anton 2 and Biowulf supercomputers for NIH.

NITRD also identified $333M in FY 2020 under the Enabling R&D for High-Capability Computing Systems (EHCS) category. Programs under EHCS include software stack and applications software for DOE’s Exascale Computing Project, and machine learning platforms under DOD’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).

The FY 2020 DOD RDT&E budget reveals approximately $497M (Base + OCO) requested for FY 2020. Of that, $252M is for Army for DOD’s HPCMP and $235M for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for the Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction Advanced Technology Development initiative.

Looking Ahead

As agencies look to strengthen their use of data and the U.S. competes on the global stage for advanced computing, federal investment in HPC products and services is expected to continue to rise. Although skyrocketing numbers are not expected in the next few years, emerging technologies such as AI and ML will take federal HPC initiatives even further.  Aspirations to be the leading nation in the world in quantum and exasacle computing will also set the stage for increased spending in the HPC space within the next 5 to 10 years.

Deltek's Federal Big Data Market, 2019-2024 report provides further analysis on the impacts of the HPC market, as well as other emerging technology markets,  within the federal big data space. 

Get a free report summary of Federal Big Data Market, 2019-2024