PRACE 2017 Annual Report: Exascale Aspirations; Industry Collaboration; HPC Training

By John Russell

May 15, 2018

The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) today released its annual report showcasing 2017 activities and providing a glimpse into thinking about Europe’s computing future. Unsurprisingly many of its themes echo those in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The report, freely available online, presents cases histories of European HPC-related activities and achievements, provides metrics around PRACE resource use trends, and interviews with HPC leaders; one of the latter is an interview with Thomas Skordas, director of Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure Directorate(C), looking at European HPC strategy. Bulleted here are three of his main points.

  • Thomas Skordas, director of Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure Directorate

    Exascale. “Maybe the biggest challenge is to prepare ourselves for the era of exascale computing, which entails several different dimensions. We need to develop our computing capabilities to offer exascale computing in Europe, which also involves improving or re-designing our current HPC applications, to be able to fully exploit these exascale capabilities. It will be equally important to develop the competitive capabilities of our supply industry so that they can compete internationally in terms of providing computing technologies.”

  • Industry HPC Use. “[T]he industrial take-up of HPC technology is low among SMEs. We definitely need to further encourage the adoption of HPC by SMEs. We have some ongoing activities in this sense. The PRACE SHAPE programme and the Fortissimo project are well established, but they have only reached a few hundred SMEs, which is a very small percentage of those that could exploit the full potential of HPC… The widening of HPC use is one of the pillars of the European HPC strategy.”
  • HPC Training. “Training scientists is one of the most critical factors if we want Europe to take full advantage of HPC. We lack computational scientists that make HPC a career choice. We still lack a practical strategy for integrating HPC into the already crowded scientific and engineering curricula of European universities. This is why we count on the important effort of PRACE through the Advanced Training Centres and the Training Portal, and the increasing involvement of HPC Centres of Excellence (CoEs) to tackle the huge training challenge.”

Interestingly, there was very little in the report on AI/machine learning/deep learning. With ISC 2018 (June 24-28, Frankfurt, Germany) fast approaching the PRACE 2017 Annual Report is a quick read and brief summary European HPC efforts.

Link to PRACE 2017 Annual Report: http://www.prace-ri.eu/IMG/pdf/Prace-Annual-Report2017_LOWRES.pdf

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