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ETP4HPC, EXDCI and SESAME Net - new HPC initiatives in Europe's Horizon 2020

In the Horizon 2020 session at ISC 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany, Chair Panagiotis Tsarchopoulos from the European Commission introduced four speakers: Jean-François Lavignon from Bull, Sergi Girona from PRACE, François Bodin from IRISA, and Karen Padmore from HPC Wales. But first, Panagiotis Tsarchopoulos started out by sketching the key HPC developments in the European Union. In 2012, a report has been issued titled "HPC: Europe's place in a global race". Afterwards, the Council on HPC in 2013 concluded in a document to the "Establishment of a European Technology Platform on HPC and a Strategic Research Agenda". This has led to the HPC chapter in the Horizon 2020 programme including three elements: Computer science evolving towards exascale HPC; achieving excellence in HPC applications; and providing access to best supercomputing facilities and services for both industry and academia via PRACE.

The three elements are heavily interrelated, explained Panagiotis Tsarchopoulos. Specifications of exascale prototypes have to be developed and there has to be decided on technological options for future systems. The EC believes in a strong collaboration between HPC centres and Centres of Excellence for applications. In addition, it is important to identify applications for co-design.

The Call results for exascale technologies can be divided in two parts. The first one addresses HPC core technologies; the second one involves HPC ecosystem development by means of coordination support actions. These do not involve research. The first round of calls was closed on 25 November 2014. There were 81 eligible proposals received that included 652 participants.

The start for the first projects is scheduled in Autumn 2015. Two ecosystem actions have been identified, namely EXDCI and Eurolab-4-HPC.

The HPC Centres of Excellence Call amounts to 14 million euro. The goal is to establish a limited number of user-centred Centres of Excellence. This call was closed on 14 January 2015. The European Commission received 20 eligible proposals. These projects will also start in Autumn 2015. The application areas involve high-energy physics, earth sciences, etc.

The Future Calls are scheduled for 2016-2017. They will address co-design of HPC systems and applications; the transition to exascale computing; and exascale ecosystem development.

The Pan-European HPC infrastructure and services will require an investment of 15 million euro; the Public Procurement of innovative HPC systems has been estimated at 26 million; and the Human Brain Project will receive 5 million euro.

The timeline looks as follows. In 2014, attention was paid to technology building blocks. In 2016, first level co-design will be addressed. In 2017, the exascale transition is planned and in 2018, the second level co-design will follow.

During the ICT 2015 Conference, to be held between 20 and 22 October in Lisbon, Portugal, sessions will be organized about EU HPC funding.

More information is available at ec.europa.eu/horizon2020-hpc.

Jean-François Lavignon gave an update on ETP4HPC SRA. This is an open association, that serves as a counterpart to the European Commission, to discuss the HPC policy in Europe. It has been established in 2012 as a contractual public-private partnership.

The ETP4HPC association has developed a strategic agenda in 2013 and now, an update is happening. At present, there are over 170 experts involved in 8 working groups. Workshops are being organized, such as EESI2, and there are also workshops for end users and ISVs. There are 20 people represented in each working group.

Jean-François Lavignon explained that there are four axes, including:

1. the HPC stack elements consisting of the HPC system architecture, system software and management, and the programming environment

2. extreme scale requirements: balance compute subsystem, I/O and storage performance and improvement of system and environment characteristics

3. new HPC deployment in the areas of mathematics and algorithms as well as HPC usage models

4. HPC usage expansion: usability, affordability, HPC services; focus on SMEs; and education and training

On 25 February 2015, kickoff meeting sessions have been launched. In March 2015, workgroups have been started. In May 2015, there was a Levelset with EESI.

Serge Girona talked about the EXDCI project. Partners in this project are PRACE and ETP4HPC. The project has a duration of 30 months, starting September 2015. The budget is 2,5 million euro.

The objectives are to coordinate the development and implementation of a common strategy for a European HPC Ecosystem.

The strategic goals are to develop a common European HPC strategy and to operate a synchronised European HPC community for joint community structuring and synchronisation.

The partners will draw up an overall planning and work plan structure with periodic updates of the Strategic Research Agenda and they will also update the PRACE scientific case.

Work packages include:

  • WP2: technological ecosystem and roadmap toward extreme and pervasive data and computing
  • WP3: applications roadmap toward exascale
  • WP4: transversal and strategic prospective
  • WP6: international liaison
  • WP7: impact monitoring: methods and tools

The next actions and events are the KoM Meeting, September 2-3 in Brussels, Belgium; the European HPC Summit, May 9-13, in Prague, Czech Republic; the coordination initial workshop, September 29-30 in Rome, Italy, organized by EXDCI. The participants will be PRACE, ETP4HPC, CoE, and FETHPC projects partners. They will discuss with each other to understand the whole ecosystem.

François Bodin addressed the technical and scientific challenges in the EXDCI initiative. He emphasized that HPC is strategic for economical growth and that it is a key enabler for the high tech industry.

The HPC challenges are paths to exascale while considering parallelism, fault tolerance, energy efficiency, and heterogeneity. The different Laws, including Moore, Dennard on constant energy and Kryder on storage density, are reaching their limits.

Energy consumption is dominated by data movements. There are also other challenges including the memory wall, the data explosion, the diminishing MTBF, and economical constraints.

The EXDCI initiative is interdisciplinary CSA. There are two scientific actions, namely the ETP4HPC and PRACE scientific case. There will be Eurolab4HPC and EXDCI collaboration on the roadmap, as well as on training and innovation.There is SRA themes coverage through the new FETHPC RIA.

François Bodin told the audience that energy and programming environments are dominating the landscape but that the data are under-represented.

There is a worldwide initiative to share and build an international plan for developing next generation open source software for scientific HPC. This is called the International Exascale Software Initiative.

The synergies for the ecosystem are increasing but the economical dimension has to be taken into account. The EUrolab4HPC/EXDCI collaboration also has a strong worldwide dimension with regard to the presence of a Big Data and Extreme-scale Computing representative.

Karen Padmore represented the SESAME Net initiative and expanded on this Supercomputing Expertise for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Network initiative.

The support of one network of HPC competence centres will promote access to computational expertise anywhere in Europe and enable the dissemination of best practices in the HPC industrial landscape, she explained.

The aims of SESAME Net are coordination, outreach, training and exchange of best practices but there will also be actions carried out in other programmes.

The centres will be set up specifically to promote access to industry and SMEs for economic development and regeneration purposes. The centres now have expertise but little industry engagement.

The SESAME Net kickoff meeting was held on 9-10 July, 2015. The partners will now be setting up the network to create a widening membership. The collating materials are already available. The partners also intend to organize workshops and publish a calendar of events.