14 perspective

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High-Performance Computing capacity is essential for countries to be truly competitive. Europe has realized this and can rely on Bull to deliver.

Supercomputers: a question of sovereignty


As we live through difficult economic times and fundamental upheavals, the issue of sovereignty is once again top of the agenda. To maintain their global ranking, and protect their vital interests, economic potential and diplomatic autonomy in the face of fierce international competition, nations must guard against an excessive dependency, whether in terms of defense, finance, energy supply or, increasingly, technology. In this respect, HighPerformance Computing (HPC) is a major challenge. So supercomputers have become an essential pillar of research and innovation and, as a result, one of the most powerful drivers for economic competitiveness. Nowadays, every sector of the economy depends on these hugely powerful computers to model, simulate, optimize and understand the most complex systems. In industry, for example – where innovation is the key to success and jobs – HPC helps car and aircraft manufacturers design safer and more fuelefficient models. In healthcare, it helps researchers understand how viruses propagate and develop new drugs more quickly. In energy, it optimizes oil and gas exploration. In chemistry, it enables new molecules to be perfected. In finance, it ensures better evaluation of risk. It has become an essential tool in all fundamental research projects. So HPC helps us push back the boundaries of knowledge and opens up whole new fields of innovation.


of industrial companies that use HPC for innovation say they could no longer do without it.

Illustration showing surface pressure distribution over a Le Mans Prototype car

© Wirth Research

which could create thousands of jobs. China is getting stronger and countries like Brazil. which are now so vital to the whole economic and scientific ecosystem. The European Commission has put forward a strategy to achieve this. Europe has all the necessary technical and human resources to excel in HPC. is to develop a fleet of Exascale supercomputers. Europe. India and Russia are showing increased interest.No. and also to address major challenges of our society like climate change or health. industry has shown it is aware of the challenges. agree on an ambitious strategy for the development of HPC supply in Europe. While the USA is strengthening its technological supremacy. backed by €1. Its plan. as part of its digital strategy. HPC industry at large will now need to engage with the ETP. For a university or research lab. countries should support and develop their technological ecosystems around HPC. because we cannot allow ourselves to abandon this space to our competitors. working closely with the Member States. with the rest dedicated to software. are taking on a strategic importance for nation states. Europe’s ambitions Most of the larger countries have already recognized this urgency. and it will oversee the implementation of this strategy. Japan is returning to the forefront. So we need to invest intelligently in this area. as it did in the 1950s when we created CERN1 or in the 1970s to protect our independence in space exploration. Half of this unprecedented investment should be in hardware. and knows how to combine them.2 billion. industry and academia. it makes you less attractive and you risk losing the best talent. When it comes to solutions. 13 © Dimitri Komatitsch/CNRS Video shot on 12 May 2008. And progress is so fast (the power of the world’s most powerful supercomputer has increased 40-fold in the past five years) that if we don’t concern ourselves with it today. © EC 3 questions to… Neelie Kroes. but also providing training for IT specialists and end users and expanding access to SMEs. Europe has to rally behind HPC. How does Europe want to position itself in the international arena? The success of the PRACE program has shown what Europe can achieve if we all work together. IT manufacturers. involving research institutes. software producers. getting its act together. has undertaken to pool its HPC resources for research through the PRACE program (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) and. each delivering one billion billion operations a second (a thousand times more than today’s most powerful 1 CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research . application publishers. users – to collaborate more closely with each other and the research community to create a virtuous circle and get to the forefront of innovation. Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda What is the Commission’s strategy when it comes to developing HPC in Europe? HPC holds major strategic importance for Europe: for industry to innovate in products and services and for the further advancement of science. I encourage everyone involved – manufacturers. machines). for its part. and evolve the ETP towards a real private-public partnership. Now our aim is to ensure that Europe is one of the leaders in the Exascale race and a centre of excellence in terms of innovation and scientific research. What role can the European IT industry play in this strategy? Industry has two equally essential roles to play: to provide HPC solutions and to develop their use. we are already falling behind and will never catch up. An expanding ecosystem For a business. in Szechuan (China) of an earthquake computed at CINES/GENCI (France) using the 3D seismic wave propagation code developed by Dimitri Komatitsch (CNRS) and his co-workers. service suppliers. In the interests of sovereignty. research and training. not being able to access computer simulation means you are at a major disadvantage compared with your international competitors. the whole value chain has to be covered. By working to create the European Technology Platform (ETP) in HPC. the European Commission has proposed to double investment in HPC. So these tools.open world 15 Bull Group's magazine Q2 2012 . To preserve their independence and long-term economic potential.

all have to be rethought or designed from scratch. CEO of GENCI (the French National HPC Organization) What is PRACE? The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) is an independent structure. © GENCI What will CURIE be used for? With peak power of two Petaflops. In astrophysics. CURIE will enable significant advances to be made in numerous scientific disciplines. such as the Mont Blanc project being coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). And other. Stroppa . 3 questions to… Catherine Rivière. which aims to design the Exascale systems of the future. a whole European ecosystem around scientific computing its rapidly being established. financed by 24 partner States. especially in the areas of nuclear fusion and clean energy. As a founder member of PRACE. And ensure that the continent has the essential resources it needs for long-term independence in HPC. which will enable our labs and businesses to be more competitive. With links to major research centers. with manufacturers like Bull. With CURIE and PRACE. Bull is a key player in European HPC initiatives. But getting to Exascale will involve major technological leaps forward. for example. an Exascale supercomputer operating at full power would use the same amount of energy as a space shuttle taking off! The algorithms used by simulation programs. Bull is also a founder member of the ETP (European Technology Platform). That’s a vital investment for the future. and require radical innovations to meet the inherent challenges. France is represented by GENCI and is responsible for hosting one of the four supercomputers supporting the research infrastructure. by obtaining some remarkable results. the structure of a protein involved in the process of neuro-degeneration has been completely modeled.16 perspective bullx has demonstrated its ability to support the HPC strategies of national and international institutions. Bull is also involved in many Europe-wide initiatives. where the hardware architecture would use between15 and 30 times less energy than current systems. to meet the challenges of Exascale computing. Having designed and implemented Tera 100 for and in partnership with the CEA. with national and international bodies. are we witnessing the emergence of an HPC Europe? That’s our aim! With the scientific community. In terms of energy consumption. In life sciences. with unprecedented precision. the ETP members aim to combine R&D forces in Europe to establish a roadmap. Two French teams recently proved this. a world first has recently been achieved: computing the structure of the entire observable Universe. appropriate storage systems for the massive amounts of data be stored and analyzed. and a balanced architecture that is unique in Europe. if you extrapolate from current machines. Bull has recently equipped GENCI with CURIE – Europe’s most powerful supercomputer today – a Petascale machine vital to the European PRACE program. Bull: a world-class player As the continent’s only supercomputer manufacturer. whose mission is to coordinate the implementation of a European network of very high-powered data centers. from the Big Bang to the present day. was built by Bull and is being run by the teams at the CEA’s ultra-large data center (TGCC) in Bruyères-le-Châtel. known as CURIE. This machine. which brings together Europe’s HPC suppliers and was formed to support the European Commission’s aim of encouraging manufacturers to mobilize. equally significant results are expected. © CEA/P.