France to Boost Industrial Innovation with New Petascale Supercomputer

By Jane Glasser

April 20, 2016

This summer, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and 13 leading French industrial companies will boost their research capabilities when they take possession of a new shared supercomputer called COBALT, designed by Bull and based on the latest Intel Xeon processor E5 2680 V4.

CEA is a government-funded technological research organization with ten research centers across France. It focuses on low-carbon energy, defense and security, information technologies, and health technologies. CEA is also charged with collaborating with industry to solve diverse high-performance computing (HPC) problems such designing safer nuclear reactors and manufacturing processes to produce longer lasting lipstick.

Purchase of the new supercomputer is being managed through CEA’s computing center, the Computing Centre for Research and Technology (CCRT) – CCRT provides high-performance computing resources for CEA and its industry partners, with an emphasis on supporting French industrial innovation and promoting industry-research partnerships in the field of high-performance numerical simulation and data processing.

Current CCRT industrial partners include Airbus Defense & Space (aerospace industrial), Areva (global nuclear industry leader), EDF (French electricity provider), Ineris (industrial risk assessment), L’Oréal (leader in cosmetics), Safran-Herakles, Snecma, Turbomeca, SafranTech (aeronautics company), Thales, Thales Alenia Space (aerospace, space and defense, security, and transportation), and Valeo (automotive technology).

Since its establishment in 2003, CCRT has gone through three generations of supercomputers and increased its computing capacity by a factor of 700. The organization’s current supercomputer, named AIRAN and installed in 2012, was originally based on Intel Xeon processors E5 (Sandy Bridge) and later upgraded to Intel Xeon processors E5 (Ivy Bridge). With partner application needs growing, CCRT realized that extending AIRAN was no longer an option; it needed to start fresh.

“Unlike the academic research world, where researchers tend to buy a very big computer and keep it for four to five years, commercial companies prefer a ‘pay as you go’ model,” says Christine Ménaché, Business Manager at CCRT. “They don’t want to pay for a big system that they grow into; they’d prefer to buy a new computer and upgrade it after about two years.”

CCRT selected an X86-based supercomputing architecture based chiefly on price/performance metrics, says Ménaché, adding that the ease with which CEA and industry partners were able to run effectively run X86 application code was also an important factor.

The new 1.4-petaflop COBALT supercomputer will be installed in CEA’s Very Large Computing Centre (TGCC) in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France, mid-2016. COBALT will have a peak performance of roughly 1.4 petaflops and will be three times more powerful and three times more energy efficient than AIRAN. Storage is provided by a Seagate storage system with a capacity of 2.5 petabytes and throughput of 60 GB/s.

COBALT will have 2,304 Intel Xeon processors E5 2680 V4 (Broadwell) with a total of 32,256 cores at 2.4 GHz. It will also have 18 hybrid nodes with Nvidia Pascal GPUs for remote computing and visualization. A special partition dedicated to the France Génomique project will be equipped with 4,032 Intel Xeon E5 processor (Broadwell) cores at 2.4 GHz and 4 very large memory nodes at 3 TB/node. An InfiniBand EDR interconnect solution (100 GB/s vs 40 GB/s currently) forms the core of the new computer and will allow it to increase capacity based on the needs of its partners for the next four to five years.

Not surprisingly, the new system will use Lustre parallel file system as CEA is a longtime user of and contributor to Lustre, and is responsible for much of the development of the Lustre 2.5 Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) feature. CEA also maintains the Robinhood policy engine, a core component of Lustre HSM. Robinhood is widely used by the Lustre community to monitor large file systems and has also been adopted by commercial companies.

Intel provides commercial support to this open source project and provides extensive support and Lustre expertise to CEA. In addition to taking advantage of Intel’s Lustre expertise, CEA relies on the Intel Cluster Studio and Intel compilers, profilers, and other software development tools.

Focus on Digital Simulation

Ménaché says COBALT will provide CEA and its industrial partners a major performance boost in running numerical simulations in a wide range of areas, for example, extending power plant lifetimes, making nuclear reactors safer and more efficient, analyzing environmental risks, optimizing car ventilation and air conditioning systems, and decoding genomes.

CCRT works with industrial partners like Valeo on this aero-acoustic numerical simulation of a car interior air conditioning system.
CCRT works with industrial partners like Valeo on this aero-acoustic numerical simulation of a car interior air conditioning system.

Here are examples of planned projects:

  • CCRT partner Safran plans to use COBALT to reduce noise and fuel consumption in helicopter and aircraft engines. The company was able to reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent through numerical simulations run on AIRAN; with COBALT, Safran hopes to drive fuel efficiency even higher.
  • Multinational automotive supplier Valeo hopes to shorten design and validation times for its automotive products.
  • L’Oréal intends to apply higher-performance numerical simulation to discovering innovative new hair, makeup, and perfume products and predict their effectiveness and safety.
  • CEA will, among other projects, use the increased computing resources to predict enzyme functions and improve multi-scale computing in the field of materials.

“We expect to see big performance gains in all our simulations, large and small, but even where there is not a performance gain, applications will be able to process more data on COBALT, so runs will be more accurate and predictable,” says Ménaché. “Our benchmarks have shown that the latest Broadwell processors give us 1.5X better performance than AIRAN, even though the new processor has a lower frequency [2.4 GHz versus 2.7GHz]. COBALT will have a real impact on the competitiveness of our partner companies.”

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!

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles the agenda addresse Read more…

By Merle Giles

NSF Awards $10M to Extend Chameleon Cloud Testbed Project

September 19, 2017

The National Science Foundation has awarded a second phase, $10 million grant to the Chameleon cloud computing testbed project led by University of Chicago with partners at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Ren Read more…

By John Russell

NERSC Simulations Shed Light on Fusion Reaction Turbulence

September 19, 2017

Understanding fusion reactions in detail – particularly plasma turbulence – is critical to the effort to bring fusion power to reality. Recent work including roughly 70 million hours of compute time at the National E Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Prepares Customers for Success with the HPC Software Portfolio

High performance computing (HPC) software is key to harnessing the full power of HPC environments. Development and management tools enable IT departments to streamline installation and maintenance of their systems as well as create, optimize, and run their HPC applications. Read more…

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

September 15, 2017

On Friday, Sept. 8, Kathy Yelick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address on “Breakthrough Science at the Exascale” at the ACM Europe Conferen Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blu Read more…

By Merle Giles

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

September 15, 2017

On Friday, Sept. 8, Kathy Yelick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address on “Breakt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Pledges Another $300 Million for Post-Moore’s Readiness

September 14, 2017

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a giant funding effort to ensure the United States can sustain the pace of electronic innovation vital to both a flourishing economy and a secure military. Under the banner of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), some $500-$800 million will be invested in post-Moore’s Law technologies. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Breaks Ground for Complex Quantum Chemistry

September 14, 2017

IBM has reported the use of a novel algorithm to simulate BeH2 (beryllium-hydride) on a quantum computer. This is the largest molecule so far simulated on a quantum computer. The technique, which used six qubits of a seven-qubit system, is an important step forward and may suggest an approach to simulating ever larger molecules. Read more…

By John Russell

Cubes, Culture, and a New Challenge: Trish Damkroger Talks about Life at Intel—and Why HPC Matters More Than Ever

September 13, 2017

Trish Damkroger wasn’t looking to change jobs when she attended SC15 in Austin, Texas. Capping a 15-year career within Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, she was acting Associate Director for Computation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Her mission was to equip the lab’s scientists and research partners with resources that would advance their cutting-edge work... Read more…

By Jan Rowell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab Targets Algorithms, AI Physics

September 7, 2017

Investment continues to flow into artificial intelligence research, especially in key areas such as AI algorithms that promise to move the technology from speci Read more…

By George Leopold

Need Data Science CyberInfrastructure? Check with RENCI’s xDCI Concierge

September 6, 2017

For about a year the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) has been assembling best practices and open source components around data-driven scientific researc Read more…

By John Russell

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries: 7nm Chips Coming in 2018, EUV in 2019

June 13, 2017

GlobalFoundries has formally announced that its 7nm technology is ready for customer engagement with product tape outs expected for the first half of 2018. The Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This