In this special guest feature, Tom Wilkie from Scientific Computing World reports that the European Commission is funding research projects and centers of excellence as part of its strategy to coordinate European HPC efforts.
In October, the European Commission made a series of announcements on how it is going to invest some of the €700 million allocated to its Public-Private Partnership on high-performance computing. In particular it released details of 21 newly launched research projects together with eight centres of excellence that will receive €140 million in Commission funding, to address challenges such as increasing the energy efficiency of HPC systems or making it easier to program and run applications on these complex machines.
The announcements were made at an event in Rome, organised by the new project ‘European eXtreme Data and Computing Initiative’ (EXDCI). This organisation will aim to coordinate the European High Performance Computing (HPC) ecosystem, bringing together the 29 new HPC projects (projects and centres of excellence), along with the participation of the Commission, Prace (the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) and the ETP4HPC (European Technology Platform for HPC).
The 21 new HPC projects were selected following a call for proposals ‘Towards exascale high performance computing’, which aimed at supporting projects that can achieve world-class extreme scale computing capabilities in platforms, technologies and applications. These projects are starting now.
The eight Centers of Excellence (CoE) are also launching this autumn, with the aim of strengthening Europe’s existing leadership in HPC applications. The CoEs cover important areas such as renewable energy, materials modelling and design, molecular and atomic modelling, weather and climate change, global system science, and bio-molecular research, and tools to improve HPC applications performance.
The new EXDCI project has the mission of gathering the main actors active in the HPC ecosystem, finding synergies and building a new HPC vision for Europe.
Supercomputing is one element in the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy aiming to adapt Europe’s economy and society to the digital age. The commission also published a study showing the progress that Europe has made over the past 5 years in using supercomputers and setting out the scale of investment needed for Europe to match other players such as the USA, Japan, and China, if it is to become a world leader in supercomputing.
According to the study, Europe is narrowing the gap with other countries. In November 2010, only nine of the world’s 50 most powerful supercomputers were located in Europe; that figure has now more than doubled to 19. However, only one EU-based machine, in Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ) in Germany, features in the top ten.
The study also found that European HPC is producing excellent returns-on-investment for science and industry. It looked at 143 European HPC projects that generated financial returns, and found that each euro invested on HPC returned €867 on average in income and €69 in profits.
However, all is not completely upbeat: Europe-wide funding for HPC fell heavily in 2013-2014. The report found that significant investment will be needed to keep Europe in the top league of supercomputing capabilities and acquire the next-generation of pre-exascale (2019-2020) and exascale machines (around 2022).
The current estimate for public and private investments required if Europe is to achieve world leadership in HPC by 2020 is some additional €3.263 billion over five years (2016 to 2020) or €5.271 billion in seven years (2016 to 2022) – roughly an additional €500 million to €750 million per year.
The study was carried out by IDC for the European Commission from October 2014 to June 2015. The study analysed the European HPC ecosystem, including market and investment data.
The eight Centres of Excellence that have been selected for funding are:
- EoCoE – Energy oriented Centre of Excellence for computer applications
- BioExcel – Centre of Excellence for Biomolecular Research
- NoMaD – The Novel Materials Discovery Laboratory
- MaX – Materials design at the eXascale
- ESiWACE – Excellence in SImulation of Weather and Climate in Europe
- E-CAM – An e-infrastructure for software, training and consultancy in simulation and modelling
- POP – Performance Optimisation and Productivity
- COEGSS – Centre of Excellence for Global Systems Science
Separately, 19 Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) and two Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) – making 21 projects in all are to be funded following the call for proposals ‘Towards exascale high performance computing’. The aim of the call was to attract projects that can achieve world-class extreme scale computing capabilities in platforms, technologies and applications. The projects are:
- ALLScale – An Exascale Programming, Multi-objective Optimisation and Resilience Management Environment Based on Nested Recursive Parallelism www.allscale.eu
- ANTAREX – AutoTuning and Adaptivity appRoach for Energy efficient eXascale HPC systems – Project home page
- ComPat – Computing Patterns for High Performance Multiscale Computing –Project home page
- ECOSCALE – Energy-efficient Heterogeneous COmputing at exaSCALE –Project home page
- ESCAPE– Energy-efficient SCalable Algorithms for weather Prediction at Exascale
- ExaFLOW – Enabling Exascale Fluid Dynamics Simulations
- ExaHyPe – An Exascale Hyperbolic PDE Engine
- ExaNest – European Exascale System Interconnect and Storage – Project home page
- ExaNode – European Exascale Processor Memory Node Design
- ExCape – Energy-efficient SCalable Algorithms for weather Prediction at Exascale
- EXTRA – Exploiting eXascale Technology with Reconfigurable Architectures –Project home page
- greenFLASH – Green Flash, energy efficient high performance computing for real-time science
- INTERTWInE – Programming Model INTERoperability ToWards Exascale –Project home page
- MANGO – Exploring Manycore Architectures for Next-GeneratiOn HPC systems
- MontBlanc-3 – European scalable and power efficient HPC platform based on low-power embedded technology – Project home page
- NextGenIO – Next Generation I/O for Exascale
- NLAFET – Parallel Numerical Linear Algebra for Future Extreme-Scale Systems
- READEX – Runtime Exploitation of Application Dynamism for Energy-efficient eXascale computing – Project home page
- SAGE – Percipient StorAGe for Exascale Data Centric Computing – Project home page
The Coordination and Support Actions are the EXDCI – European eXtreme Data and Computing Initiative – and Eurolab-4-HPC – Foundations of a European Research Center of Excellence in High Performance Computing Systems.