Sounding the Bullhorn for Europe’s Tech Future

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 19, 2011

In 2010, IDC’s EMEA division set forth a number of recommendations for strengthening Europe’s HPC presence in the report, Development of a Supercomputing Strategy in Europe, which included a broad set of action items to propel Europe into the exascale era.

In the report, the research group suggests that in order for Europe to reach the goal of being a center for high performance computing innovation by 2020, a number of challenges must be addressed. IDC listed a number of new investment areas, including expanding the number and size of HPC resources in the EU, creating a set of exascale labs and testbed centers to address software barriers, attracting new students to HPC, and more generally, enhancing leadership in strategic application areas.

One major facet is noticeably absent from this litany of sustained fixes—one that Bull’s Matthew Foxton addressed during a talk at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) last month in Germany.

According to Foxton, Europe’s challenges when it comes to the future of high performance computing in Europe and the coming era of exascale go far beyond leadership enhancements and a focus on software.  As he put it, there is a great emphasis on R&D in Europe in general, but where Europe falls short is placing too much attention on the “R” and not enough on the “D”.

Foxton says that the great missing link in discussions about the next generation of technology in Europe is the near complete reliance on other regions for the hardware resources. Without that holistic technological approach coming from within (software, research, development and hardware), Foxton says that Europe could be left behind by the very regions that are supplying critical HPC hardware infrastructure.

Your bias bell probably went off at the relationship between Bull and their plea for strengthening European HPC hardware markets. It’s natural that one of the few European vendors of HPC hardware would want to enhance its market share with what amounts to a patriotic call to arms. However, despite this apparent self-interest, there is something to Foxton’s claim. Why isn’t Europe a center for HPC hardware, at least to the extent that it is feeding its homegrown software and research prowess into foreign-made machines?

Foxton pointed to the estimate that nearly 50% of all HPC spending in Europe was consumed by hardware purchases, yet notes that Europe is not a major player. As he said during his talk, “For a market that is growing—one that is a training ground for engineers, a source of employment for these engineers—why are we a world-class buyer of HPC but not a world-class provider?”

He claims that the answer doesn’t lie in a European Buy Act that would force EU-internal purchasing decisions but rather that Europe needs to move beyond its traditional scope in where it focuses HPC development. He points to a question that he says has arisen in conversations about the topic: “Are the Europeans themselves neglecting Europe?”

Foxton argues:

“We can listen to analysts and commentators when they say we need to just buy a certain exascale system versus just building the first one ourselves. But then, who do we buy from? America? China? Japan? India?… We could buy from any of the world’s major regions but why would we be the only region in the world not capable of producing these systems? Do we really believe encouraging this kind of goal would really encourage the European industry?”

Beyond the roundabout way of encouraging European HPC by looking outside for key hardware investments, Foxton makes another point. He says that this practice of “neglect” is going to start having a visible impact on the most important element of Europe’s HPC future—young, skilled engineers.

He says that among all the threats to European supercomputing and all of the economic incentives it can provide is the risk of brain drain. This is not a new topic for European HPC professionals and has formed the center of a number of working group topics.

For instance, the European Commission has set up a number of working groups to indentify some of key components of Foxton’s argument for a more stable, productive European HPC industry. The ESFRI group works with the e-Infrastructure Reflection Group (e-IRG) to promote the possibilities offered by a more connected HPC ecosystem.  The group says that “E-infrastructures stimulate the identification and creation of new scientific communities, uniting researchers who are working on similar challenges and are willing to share resources and reach new levels of collaboration.”

Moreover, they claim that “Widespread use of e-infrastructures represents an effective answer to problems such as the digital divide and brain drain. This is demonstrated by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is serving the worldwide community of particle physicists.”

Even still, projects like the LHC are based on software and academic research—not exactly the broad-reaching economically appealing application areas that Foxton sees as being the most valuable. He pointed to key areas in oil and gas, the aerospace industry, and high energy physics to support lasting clean energy solutions as being crucial to the economic well-being of Europe.

This is where his argument about the missing D in R&D is most keenly felt—if Europe is providing the world with cutting-edge research and applications to be computed elsewhere or on foreign-made hardware, could they be missing out on a large slice of the HPC pie that lies waiting for nothing more than a robust competitive HPC hardware ecosystem?

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Is Data Science the Fourth Pillar of the Scientific Method?

April 18, 2019

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang revived a decade-old debate last month when he said that modern data science (AI plus HPC) has become the fourth pillar of the scientific method. While some disagree with the notion that statistic Read more…

By Alex Woodie

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing the bounds of what's possible in business and science, in w Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

April 18, 2019

Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expens Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Bridging HPC and Cloud Native Development with Kubernetes

The HPC community has historically developed its own specialized software stack including schedulers, filesystems, developer tools, container technologies tuned for performance and large-scale on-premises deployments. Read more…

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer

April 18, 2019

Today, as part of our ongoing HPCwire People to Watch focus series, we are highlighting our interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer. Michela -- the General Chair of SC19 -- is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Intel Gold U-Series SKUs Reveal Single Socket Intentions

April 18, 2019

Intel plans to jump into the single socket market with a portion of its just announced Cascade Lake microprocessor line according to one media report. This isn Read more…

By John Russell

BSC Researchers Shrink Floating Point Formats to Accelerate Deep Neural Network Training

April 15, 2019

Sometimes calculating solutions as precisely as a computer can wastes more CPU resources than is necessary. A case in point is with deep learning. In early stag Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Intel Extends FPGA Ecosystem with 10nm Agilex

April 11, 2019

The insatiable appetite for higher throughput and lower latency – particularly where edge analytics and AI, network functions, or for a range of datacenter ac Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Doubles Down on Medical AI

April 9, 2019

Nvidia is collaborating with medical groups to push GPU-powered AI tools into clinical settings, including radiology and drug discovery. The GPU leader said Monday it will collaborate with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide clinicians with its Clara AI tool kit. The partnership would allow radiologists to leverage AI techniques for diagnostic imaging using their own clinical data. Read more…

By George Leopold

Digging into MLPerf Benchmark Suite to Inform AI Infrastructure Decisions

April 9, 2019

With machine learning and deep learning storming into the datacenter, the new challenge is optimizing infrastructure choices to support diverse ML and DL workfl Read more…

By John Russell

AI and Enterprise Datacenters Boost HPC Server Revenues Past Expectations – Hyperion

April 9, 2019

Building on the big year of 2017 and spurred in part by the convergence of AI and HPC, global revenue for high performance servers jumped 15.6 percent last year Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This