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July 30, 2012

Deeper Collaboration Between PRACE and XSEDE Proposed

Trish Barker

Eickermann plenary at XSEDE12 describes state of PRACE, potential for international collaboration

During a plenary talk at the XSEDE12 conference, Thomas Eickermann of the Jülich Supercomputing Center described the parallels between the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) and the U.S. XSEDE program and highlighted the potential for the two cyberinfrastructures to collaborate. In fact, through Sept. 15 PRACE and XSEDE are requesting input from the research community on potential joint activities.

Like XSEDE, the PRACE organization launched relatively recently, first offering high-performance computing resources and services to European researchers in 2010. Eickermann described the years of work that went into developing the mission, governing structure, and funding to make PRACE possible.

First came the science case. “Simulations on supercomputers have established themselves as the third pillar of scientific discovery. They are key to maintaining competitiveness in industry and scientific research,” he said. “We would like to provide all European scientists and engineers with access to high-performance resources regardless of whether they are from a large or small country.”

Eickermann outlined three broad areas where PRACE aims to make significant contributions:

  • challenges in engineering and prototyping 
  • challenges in applied sciences addressing major societal issues, including climate change, Europe’s aging population, and sustainable energy.
  • challenges in fundamental sciences, such as subatomic physics, astrophysics/cosmology, nuclear physics, plasma physics, and geophysics

Supporting essential research in these domains requires a complete ecosystem of resources. PRACE is at the top of the pyramid, providing “Tier-0” high-performance computing systems. By the end of 2012, Eickermann says PRACE will offer a combined total of more than 13 petaflops with systems in Italy, Germany, France, and Spain. PRACE also helps coordinate access to multiple Tier-1 systems in the 24 member nations; these systems currently provide more than 2 petaflops of computing power.

Since 2010, PRACE has awarded 2.7 million core hours to more than 100 projects. PRACE personnel also provide application support and training to the user community.

XSEDE and PRACE have joined forces to provide training through an annual EU-U.S. summer school, an effort that began under the TeraGrid and DEISA predecessor projects. This year, there were more than 230 applicants for 60 available seats.

Eickermann explained that both PRACE and XSEDE would like to encourage more international collaboration. To that end, the two cyberinfrastructures have issued a joint call for “expressions of interest” in collaborative projects:

“We envisage a joint call for allocations or even steps toward interoperability,” Eickermann said. “Or you may have other ideas.”

Members of the HPC community can offer their feedback and suggestions through September 15.

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