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October 11, 2013

EU Launches HPC Cloud Experiment

Tiffany Trader

Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) is announcing a new HPC cloud project, called Fortissimo, aimed at boosting the competitiveness of European industry, specifically small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who use digital simulation and modeling. The three-year effort, which is being led by EPCC, will focus on the development of a cloud of HPC resources.

Fortissimo represents a consortium of 45 partners who have identified the need for a high performance computing cloud infrastructure to run simulation services. The effort aims to help the European manufacturing community better compete in the international marketplace.

Among the partners are manufacturing companies, application developers, domain experts, IT solution providers and HPC cloud service providers from 14 countries. Fortissimo is being coordinated by the University of Edinburgh and funded by the European Commission within the7th Framework Programme.

“With total costs of €22 million and funding from the European Commission of €16 million, this is a major project for EPCC,” explains EPCC Executive Director Dr. Mark Parsons.

It is understood that digital manufacturing provides a competitive advantage to companies small and large, but while larger, more established outfits are in a better position to access these tools, SMEs face greater technological and financial hurdles. In fact this segment of the manufacturing sector has been defined as the “missing middle” because they are missing out on the benefits of advanced computing.

“The goal of Fortissimo is to overcome this impasse through the provision of simulation services and tools running on a cloud infrastructure,” notes the project press release.

“A ‘one-stop-shop’ will greatly simplify access to advanced simulation, particularly to SMEs,” it continues “This will make hardware, expertise, applications, visualisation and tools easily available and affordable on a pay-per-use basis. In doing this Fortissimo will create and demonstrate a viable and sustainable commercial ecosystem.”

The first leg of the project will be to set up teams of projects – with each team involving a company with a modeling and simulation challenge, HPC experts and HPC service providers. The initial run will involve 45 partners and 20 experiments. The experiments, which have already been defined, include simulation of continuous casting and die casting, environmental control and urban planning, and aerodynamic design and optimization. There will be additional open calls for experiments at month 12 and month 18 of the project. EPCC expects the total participation will grow to around 90 partners and 50-60 experiments by the end of the project.