SEA Changes: How EuroHPC Is Preparing for Exascale

By Oliver Peckham

August 5, 2022

Back in June, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – which serves as the EU’s concerted supercomputing play – announced its first exascale system: JUPITER, set to be installed by the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (FZJ) in 2023. But EuroHPC has been preparing for the exascale era for a much longer time: eight months before the JU issued its call for exascale host sites, it announced 13 research projects mostly aimed at readiness for extreme-scale computing. Three of those 13 are the “SEA” projects – DEEP-SEA, IO-SEA and RED-SEA – which, respectively, are aimed at preparing programming environments, data management and storage, and interconnects for the imminent arrival of European exascale computing.

DEEP-SEA

DEEP-SEA focuses on software for exascale architectures. Funded to the tune of €15 million, DEEP-SEA is a German-based project and the successor to DEEP-EST. (The DEEP-EST project, in turn, ran until March 2021 and focused on development of a modular supercomputer architecture.) It is coordinated by FZJ, which – as mentioned above – will host the first EuroHPC exascale system.

“With the successful completion of DEEP-EST and the prototype up and running at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre, DEEP Projects face a new challenge: How should programming environments be designed that can support future exascale systems with a broad variety of different workloads?” the DEEP-SEA site reads. The project, it says, will “deliver the programming environment for future European exascale systems,” ensuring that all levels of the software stack can support “highly heterogeneous” configurations. The DEEP-SEA programming environment will be open-source and will support modular supercomputers. It will be co-designed with applications from a series of “high-impact scientific fields.”

(More on DEEP-SEA here.)

IO-SEA

IO-SEA, meanwhile, is funded for €7.9 million and is coordinated by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). IO-SEA is aimed at producing a novel data management and storage platform for exascale that utilizes both hierarchical storage management and on-demand storage provisioning. Like DEEP-SEA, it will be co-designed — in IO-SEA’s case, using data-intensive workloads versus scientific workloads.

“The platform will efficiently make use of storage tiers spanning NVMe and NVRAM at the top all the way down to least active data stored with tape-based technologies,” IO-SEA’s site reads, explaining that the platform will use “ephemeral data nodes and data accessors” that will “eliminate the problem of treating storage resources as static and unchanging system components[.]”

RED-SEA

Finally, RED-SEA – funded for €8 million and coordinated by Atos – focuses on the interconnect of it all. The project seeks to “pave the way to the next generation of European exascale interconnects” by way of Atos’ Bull eXascale Interconnect (BXI).

“Network interconnects play an enabling role in HPC systems – and this will be even truer for the coming exascale systems that will rely on higher node counts and increased use of parallelism and communication,” the RED-SEA site explains. “In this landscape, the network may well become the next big bottleneck, similar to memory in single node systems.” The site explains that the project will develop a new architecture to remedy this in six core steps:

  1. Specifying the new architecture using hardware-software co-design and a set of representative applications for HPC, HPDA, and AI.
  2. Testing, evaluating and implementing the new architecture at multiple levels (e.g. mathematical analysis, simulation, emulation).
  3. Enabling seamless communication within and between resource clusters.
  4. Adding efficient network resource management.
  5. Opening the interconnect to new kinds of applications and hardware.
  6. Developing reusable libraries and fabric management solutions using open standards and compatible APIs.

Like the other SEA projects, RED-SEA supports the modular supercomputing architecture developed under the DEEP-EST project.

All three SEA projects are slated to run until March 2024, by which point JUPITER is slated to have been installed for at least a few months.

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