EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Talks Procurement, EPI, and Europe’s Efforts to Control its HPC Destiny

By Steve Conway

November 19, 2020

Editor’s Note: On October 21, 2020, the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) announced a EUR 144.5 million ($160 million) procurement contract for LUMI, a precursor to exascale supercomputers, with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. This was an important step forward for the EuroHPC JU which held its first meeting just two years ago (Nov. 2018) and is the legal and funding entity which enables pooling of EU and national resources in HPC with the aim of developing a pan-European supercomputing ecosystem. In this exclusive for HPCwire, Steve Conway, Hyperion Research senior advisor for HPC market dynamics, interviewed Anders Dam Jensen, the Executive Director of the EuroHPC JU, about plans for supercomputer procurements, the European Processor Initiative, and Europe’s efforts to control its HPC destiny.

While much of the HPC community’s attention is fixed on SC20’s flood of news and new product announcements, Anders Dam Jensen, the newly-minted executive director of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking, provides a glimpse into Europe’s action plans for building out the European HPC ecosystem in this interview with HPCwire.

HPCwire: Can you summarize what the European Union is doing in HPC, especially the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking?

Anders Jensen: We’re pulling together the resource of the EU, of 32 countries, including some non-EU member states, that are participating in the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, along with some participating private-sector partners. Our aim is to give every participating country more than they would otherwise have. Right now, our focus is on infrastructure, procuring eight supercomputers jointly with participating countries by the end of this year, and having all eight operational by the end of 2021. That’s five petascale and three precursor to exascale (pre-exascale) machines.

Anders Dam Jensen, EuroHPC JU Executive Director

For each procurement of a pre-exascale machine, multiple participating countries acting together as a consortium contribute 50 percent of the cost of the machine and the Joint Undertaking funds the other 50 percent. Technically, the JU owns these large supercomputers and manages 50 percent of the capacity, while the countries participating in each pre-exascale procurement together control the other half of the machine’s time. The 50 percent of the capacity the JU manages will be awarded through a peer review process to users from throughout Europe.

The formula is different for petascale-class machines, where EuroHPC funds up to 35 percent of the cost in return for controlling up to 35 percent of the access time. The hosting entity’s consortium behind each of these procurements manages the remaining majority of the capacity and owns the machines. That’s the infrastructure side. Our vision is to have eight machines under contract this year, five petascale and 3 pre-exascale systems, all to be operational by the end of next year.

The research and innovation agenda’s aim is to build an HPC ecosystem for Europe. We’ve fallen behind the U.S. and Japan, and this is what EuroHPC is seeking to fill. The aim is for Europe to provide state-of-the-art equipment, and the most ambitious part is to develop a processor through EPI, the European Processor Initiative. When we get to exascale machines, our objective is to have at least one of them with a significant European technology footprint.

The third part of the research and innovation agenda is about skills and training. Some countries have been doing HPC for decades and others are relatively new to it, so we have a very diverse level of knowledge of HPC in Europe. We’re looking to broaden the knowledge and use of HPC across Europe. We’ll have a new call for proposals concerning this. It’s under preparation and will be published soon.

HPCwire: What is your role as executive director of EuroHPC?

Jensen: I’ve been in this role since September, so for just 6 weeks. On paper, my role is to implement the decisions of the Governing Board and to manage the JU on a daily basis. In practice, it is like running a startup with an intensive agenda!  The work done by my predecessors Gustav Kalbe [former interim executive director of EuroHPC] and Jean-Francois Buggenhout [former interim executive director of EuroHPC] under the leadership of Thomas Skordas [Director in the European Commission] was absolutely impressive. They lined up everything necessary for me to take over and start signing the procurement contracts.

Everyone was waiting for EuroHPC to become an autonomous entity. This wasn’t easy to do. It required a lot of work and time, and today we’re still in start-up mode. We became autonomous from the European Commission only on September 23. It means that we are no longer operating under the supervision of the European Commission and that we are now solely responsible for our operations and we have the capacity to implement our own budget. It was nice that there was money in the account for signing contracts but at the same time there was a lot to handle! Luckily I have a team of people with the right spirit to make things happen.

We signed the LUMI contract with HPE the day before press conference, for a peak 550-petaflop supercomputer that will start operations in 2021 at CSC’s datacenter in Kajaani, Finland. Before that, we signed a contract for Leonardo, a peak 320-petaflop machine from Atos that will be located at CINECA in Italy.

My job is to manage the EuroHPC organization and I’m also its legal representative. There’s a lot still to do, but thanks to the great work of my predecessors I sometimes feel as if I’ve come in for the victory lap. The people in the Commission managed on the political side to get agreements about co-funding between countries and the EU, and then between consortia of countries and the EU, without which the JU could not succeed. In my opinion, this kind of collaboration is what the European Union is all about.

HPCwire: How is the European approach to HPC different from the strategies in the U.S., China and Japan?

Anders: Getting agreement among many countries rather than just one is a key thing that makes the European approach more challenging, but this is what the EU should be all about: making it a win-win for all the participating countries, giving them more than they would likely be able to get acting alone.

HPCwire: What are Europe’s main assets in supercomputing?

Jensen: We have a very broad HPC user and application base. Some European countries have been working at the forefront of HPC since the start of the supercomputer era. Europe is not only a driving force behind supercomputing applications development, for example for simulations and scientific research, but it has also a leading position in fundamental research on emerging technologies such as quantum computing.

Moreover, Europe has a strong position in other HPC-related areas such as cooling technology, board and system integration or software tools.

HPCwire: What are the biggest challenges Europe faces in HPC?

Jensen: I think we have to recognize that our challenge is on the hardware technology side. We’ve done very well with applications and other software but by using HPC systems from the U.S. and Japan. Another challenge, as I mentioned, is that European countries are at very different levels of HPC expertise and experience, and the challenge is to even this out. One of my tasks is to lift up those that want lifting, so we can tap into the research talent that exists in all of the countries. The consortia include both highly experienced and less experienced countries at HPC, so there’s a mechanism in place that’s already making progress. Another important concept is the centers of excellence and competency centers, where each country has support to access HPC resources. The JU-managed computers will be available to every single country and in each country there will be a focal point for accessing these resources.

HPCwire: What are the main success criteria for the Joint Undertaking?

Jensen: The main criterion is to deliver on the agenda that’s been established by the European Union. One important goal is an exascale machine with a European technology footprint, and another is to provide HPC access to researchers in every participating European country and ensure that HPC experience is raised in countries that haven’t been in a position to do this adequately before.

HPCwire: How will user requirements be built into these procurements?

Jensen: Procurements have been done in close collaboration with the hosting entities, and they in turn collaborated closely with their user communities to define requirements for the systems. Very significant discussions took place with each hosting institution before the procurements. An important goal for the JU was to get a diverse technology base across the EU, and not just eight machines with the same architecture, but machines that excel on different types of workloads, where users could gain experience with a variety of architectures.

HPCwire: How important for EuroHPC is support for European industries?

Jensen: There’s a lot of focus on this. The new regulation, currently under discussion between the Commission and national capitals, will set the JU’s agenda for the next decade. It envisions up to 20 percent of the EuroHPC compute time allocated for industry and SMEs. We already aim at granting free of charge computing access time to industrial applications related to research and innovation activities funded by the EU, but we intend to increase this to allow future projects, for instance under Horizon Europe or the Digital Europe Programme, to have access to these machines. And lastly, we need to work with the hosting entities, participating states and users which include SMEs to determine whether access for payment is a way of strengthening European industrial use of these machines.

HPCwire: What about SMEs? Will EuroHPC help them, too?

Jensen: SMEs are one of our priorities because they normally can’t afford their own supercomputers. There’s a very strong desire to give SMEs access to HPC in order to accelerate innovation and help drive the European economy. The Fortissimo programs for SMEs has been very successful, as has the SHAPE program. Of course, we can’t deal with all 200,000 SMEs that exist in Europe but these programs have had many good successes and we will try to pursue this effort.

HPCwire: What is the relationship between EuroHPC and PRACE?

Jensen: We are in the process of defining that. PRACE is well respected for managing time on supercomputers within Europe. We’re discussing how we can work together. There’s a lot of overlap. The specifics aren’t nailed down yet, but there’s no question we’ll work together in a way that’s beneficial to users, and we’ll coordinate to avoid duplication of effort.

HPCwire: How will EuroHPC balance support for creating a strong European HPC supply chain with the need of European scientists and engineers to have access to the best HPC systems, no matter where in the world they come from? How open will the EuroHPC procurements be to suppliers based in other parts of the world?

Jensen: It’s a balance we need to strike. The EU has clear rules to ensure open and transparent procurements. The calls for tenders have openly stated that vendors need to live up to a stated set of requirements, including how European technologies might fit into the bids. So far the most powerful EuroHPC supercomputer is LUMI, to be built by HPE. Atos has won a couple of contracts for machines. We want a broad range of bidders and a broad range of machines.

HPCwire: There is an HPC skills gap throughout the world. How will Europe address the skills gap?

Jensen: We are in the process of starting two big projects that were launched on September 1, both being coordinated by HLRS in Stuttgart. EuroCC aims to bring the participating European countries to a common high level in HPC and AI. This is the initiative that will establish national competence centers in the participating countries. Its Coordination and Support Action CASTIEL will link together the national centers throughout Europe to ensure successful collaboration among the participating countries.

HPCwire: The European Processor Initiative has established ambitious goals to achieve by 2025, including the development of an HPC processor, an embedded processor for automated vehicles and other AI applications, and an accelerator based on the RISC-V standard. What progress that the EPI made so far?

Jensen: The first phase is completing and we’re about to start the second phase. The EPI consortium will report in January 2021. It’s exactly what we should be doing to help get sovereignty over HPC technology in Europe. Important work was done in the initial phase to meet the objectives of that phase. Now we’re defining how to move forward. The most visible result is the creation of SiPearl, whose role is to commercialize the IP and disseminate it into industrial activities.

HPCwire: Finally, the EU plans to invest one billion euros over ten years in the quantum computing flagship program that is now under way. Will EuroHPC be involved in this program or in any aspect of quantum computing?

Jensen: The Quantum Technologies Flagship isn’t formally connected with the EuroHPC JU, but one future ambition of EuroHPC is to deploy quantum computing capability that connects with HPC. The member states haven’t agreed on this yet, but it could be really interesting.  Europe has a real chance of being a global leader in QC.

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!

Natural Compounds, Identified via HPC, Move Forward in COVID-19 Therapeutic Testing

December 2, 2020

Nearly six months ago, HPCwire reported on efforts by researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to identify natural compounds that could be useful in the fight against COVID-19. At the time, the resear Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Reveals Gaudi-based EC2 Instances Coming in 2021

December 2, 2020

Amazon Web Services has a broad swath of new and bolstered services coming for customers in 2021, from the implementation of powerful Habana Gaudi AI hardware in Amazon EC2 instances for machine learning workloads to cus Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

AWS Goes Supersonic with Boom

December 2, 2020

Supersonic flights are a Holy Grail of commercial aviation, promising halvings of international flight times. While commercial supersonic flights have operated in the past, high costs for both airlines and passengers led Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

VAST Data Makes the Case for All-Flash Storage; Do you Agree?

December 1, 2020

Founded in 2016, all-flash storage startup VAST Data says it is on the verge of upending storage practices in line with its original mission which was and remains “to kill the hard drive,” says Jeff Denworth, one of Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: December 2020 Edition

December 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

AWS Solution Channel

Add storage to your high-performance file system with a single click and meet your scalability needs

Many organizations have on-premises, high-performance workloads burdened with complex management and scalability challenges. Scaling data-intensive workloads on-premises typically involves purchasing more hardware, which can slow time to production and require high upfront investment. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Intel Keynote Address

Intel is the foundation of HPC – from the workstation to the cloud to the backbone of the Top500. At SC20, Intel’s Trish Damkroger, VP and GM of high performance computing, addresses the audience to show how Intel and its partners are building the future of HPC today, through hardware and software technologies that accelerate the broad deployment of advanced HPC systems. Read more…

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: SC20 Edition

November 30, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Reveals Gaudi-based EC2 Instances Coming in 2021

December 2, 2020

Amazon Web Services has a broad swath of new and bolstered services coming for customers in 2021, from the implementation of powerful Habana Gaudi AI hardware i Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

AWS Goes Supersonic with Boom

December 2, 2020

Supersonic flights are a Holy Grail of commercial aviation, promising halvings of international flight times. While commercial supersonic flights have operated Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

VAST Data Makes the Case for All-Flash Storage; Do you Agree?

December 1, 2020

Founded in 2016, all-flash storage startup VAST Data says it is on the verge of upending storage practices in line with its original mission which was and remai Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: December 2020 Edition

December 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. Read more…

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

At Oak Ridge, ‘End of Life’ Sometimes Isn’t

October 31, 2020

Sometimes, the old dog actually does go live on a farm. HPC systems are often cursed with short lifespans, as they are continually supplanted by the latest and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chipmaker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the European Union begin scrutinizing the impact of the blockbuster deal on semiconductor industry competition and innovation, the deal has at the very least... Read more…

By George Leopold

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