EU considers 25 million Euro exascale initiative

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In mid-June members of the Information and Communication Technologies component of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) discussed plans in the works to add a focus area for exascale technologies to their research program.

In a presentation given in Brussels on June 11 Leonardo Flores Añover (Scientific Officer, GEANT and e-Infrastructures Unit) outlined the proposed exascale objectives in FP7, which are still in discussion. If adopted this would mark the first objective in FP7 aimed at the exascale, complementing other EU-funded efforts such as PRACE and support for the International Exascale Software Project.

Discussions right now indicate that the effort may include both hardware and software components. On the hardware side the goal would be to develop a small number of 100 PFLOPS computing platforms by 2014 that could reach exaFLOPS by 2020. On the software side research would include both applications and systems software. A notional 40/60 split is being proposed in applications and simulation vs. systems development.

According to Añover’s presentation, this line of research is very much a matter of leadership for the EU, which wants to be on the frontline of international efforts for the development of HPC system software and tools.

It is expected that research would be organized into individual “Integrated Projects” which would include as partners one or more supercomputing centers for system software development, academic or commercial technology and system suppliers, and industrial or academic centers to develop exascale application codes. Interestingly, all software has to be developed as open source.

Right now proponents would like to see two to three projects funded with total funding reaching 25 million Euros (roughly $31M USD); the final Information and Communications Technologies work program is expected to be approved by the end of July 2010, with a subsequent call issued in late September for proposals due in mid-January next year.

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