Q&A with EPI Chair Eric Monchalin, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

By HPCwire Editorial Team

September 9, 2022

HPCwire presents our interview with Eric Monchalin, chair of European Processor Initiative & VP, head of machine intelligence, Atos, and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. Monchalin recaps the EPI program strategy, explains the motivations for tech sovereignty, and gives a view to current and future computing trends. This interview was conducted by email earlier this year.

Congratulations on being named a 2022 HPCwire Person to Watch! The European Processor Initiative seems more pressing than ever, with the pandemic revealing the fragility of many international supply chains that are crucial for modern computing and manufacturing. How do you view EPI’s role in such a volatile landscape?

Thank you for this honor. I am delighted to be recognized as a 2022 HPCwire Person to Watch. I’m equally delighted to have been elected chair of the European Processor Initiative and to actively participate, also as a European citizen, to pave the way toward Europe’s technological sovereignty.

The pandemic has underlined how countries and economical spaces, like the European Union, are depending on other geographical areas for their key procurements. Even with highly sophisticated logistics chains delivering just-in-time parts and goods, it has been demonstrated that any severe, unplanned event can lead to serious shortages strongly impacting economies or business systems.

The dramatic consequences of these shortages, plus among other things like the net zero target or the relentless increase of the cost of energy, is raising the importance of localizing sustainable, efficient and resilient manufacturing capabilities. It’s also pointing out the value of smart manufacturing, also named Industry 4.0, to achieve such objectives.

It is a big challenge in itself to bridge the gap between the European strengths and challenges to make Europe a leader in the Industry 4.0, and thus to bring a European localized industry to the forefront. However, much more is possible when a concerted academic, research and industrial effort is developed to break out of the technological locks. It is exactly the objective of the European Processor Initiative, with 30 partners from 11 European countries cooperating, to strengthen the competitiveness and leadership of European industry and science, designing European general purpose and accelerator microprocessor technologies with extreme performance and power ratio, as well as tackling important segments of broad and emerging HPC and Big Data markets.

The European Processor Initiative is ultimately targeting the coming European Exascale systems, as well as the computing continuum, as the foundation of Industry 4.0 to pave the road of a leading, resilient and sovereign European industry.

Initiatives like EuroHPC and the European Processor Initiative are working to advance European sovereignty in supercomputing. How do you view the balance between (and future of) global, continental and national interests in European supercomputing?

Europe has a long history in mathematics and science with strong academic institutions. It explains the European leadership on the application field. However, Europe was less focused on the hardware technologies with nowadays being dependent of non-European players for the design and manufacturing of many key components like memories or high-end processors. The good news is that European academic and industrial actors are leaders in other types of components, providing a fertile breeding ground for the European Chips Act that has been announced on 8th February.

The European Processor Initiative is in some ways a forerunner of the European Chips Act. EPI contributes to the EU digital agenda and strengthens Europe’s digital autonomy, and it serves the objective of EuroHPC, which is building a global, leading European HPC ecosystem. The European Processor Initiative’s impacts are even twofold. First, it contributes to the development of European supercomputing technologies that can compete on the global HPC market. Second, it is a key ingredient of the European Union to equip itself with a world-class supercomputing infrastructure.

The EuroHPC roadmap (2019-2027) includes the integration of quantum and HPC infrastructures. Does Europe see this as a leadership opportunity, in what ways?

If Europe has to improve its investments in chips for supercomputing infrastructure to strengthen its leadership and resilience, the situation is totally different for quantum computing. All worldwide players are almost starting the race on an equal footing, with equal chances of being first in class.

As everywhere, the quantum field is therefore strongly active in Europe with large European investments in the Quantum Flagship launched in 2018 and ambitious national programs and numerous promising academic, research, startup and industrial players. Atos is by example collaborating with the startup Pasqal to develop a quantum accelerator for supercomputers. Atos is also making available to the market its Quantum Learning Machine, the highest performing quantum simulator in the world.

Nevertheless, it is still a long path in front of us to see universal quantum computers that are reliable enough for around-the-clock science or industrial production. In a first step, it’s a promising technology as an accelerator to boost HPC applications in areas like optimization problems, chemistry or machine learning.

Consequently, quantum computing has full importance in the EuroHPC roadmap to equip the European Union “with a world-class federated, secure and hyper-connected supercomputing and quantum computing service and data infrastructure” as stated by Anders Jensen in his HPCwire People to Watch recognition from last year’s article.

Where do you see HPC headed? What trends – and in particular emerging trends – do you find most notable? Any areas you are concerned about, or identify as in need of more attention/investment?

The pace of technological change is faster than ever with a digital revolution under way for which the drivers are proliferating: HPC, Edge Computing, Internet of Things, AI, Industrial Data Platforms, Blockchain and so on. These drivers are enabling the transformation of manufacturing and services, reshaping entire sectors of the economy. Associated to strong academic institutions and industrial infrastructures, these drivers are pillars for the growth of ecosystems of smart machines that is a foundation for Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 – the underway industrial revolution. These swarm computing capabilities are also enabled by the datacenters, Edge Computing and IoT that become increasingly connected, emerging as a computing continuum.

A complete and efficient industrial product or process is also being accompanied by a virtual representation: a digital twin. These digital solutions shorten the long iterative design and manufacturing cycles, lessening the time-to-market by removing idle time when waiting for information. Digital Twins are a great opportunity in utilizing the power of models in combination with massive computing capacities, the increasing availability of rich data sets, modern data analytics and AI techniques.

In such a context, supercomputing is broader than ever, embracing classical modeling and simulation that are increasingly boosted by Machine Learning models. Data driven models are also injected in numerical simulations to represent complex systems, and massive outputs of large simulations require nowadays AI capabilities to analyze the results. In addition, real-time supercomputing is needed by more and more fields like Industry 4.0 and digital twins. Lastly a green computing continuum is pushing supercomputing at the edge.

These massive and fast progresses are reinforcing the key role of supercomputing for all the societal and business challenges like climate change, decarbonation, sustainability, smart everything (cities, mobility, agriculture, medicine, manufacturing etc.), energy challenges and so on. It’s not only a must for any continent or economical space or nation to tackle these numerous challenges by their own to strengthen their leadership and autonomy, but also in cooperation with others.

Lastly, Atos is actively participating to these challenges with most recently the announcement of the BullSequana XH3000, a hybrid computing platform with uparalleled flexibility, performance and energy-efficiency to meet the Exascale challenges above and beyond.

Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – family stories, unique hobbies, favorite places, etc.? Is there anything about you your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

I’m fortunate to live in Grenoble within the Alpes. The closest starting points for local summits, ski stations or windy lakes are only 30 minutes away from home. To live here was a big opportunity during the pandemic lockdowns to have the ability to relax, hiking from home on nearby mountainsides. In such a great area you must love outdoor activities with your family. We enjoy hiking and climbing. When we notice the snow on the peaks, it’s time to put on either the skis, the snowboard or, for most of the time, the snowshoes.

I also have secret to admit. The water is always too cold for me. No chance to see me swimming somewhere. But I do love sailing. There is no better shot of pleasure and adrenaline than when you’re sailing fast enough that the boat is planning on top of the water under a large spinnaker in strong wind conditions. Doing this alongside one of my adult children on the family sport boat, being splashed by the hull just above the water surface, is a thrill I can’t get enough of.

The weather can also be inclement. In this case, it’s time for creative activities at home like developing a robot, practicing bookbinding, or spending some time in my photo lab, developing an old fashion black and white film and making large format prints from my best shots.

Monchalin is one of 12 HPCwire People to Watch for 2022. You can read the interviews with the other honorees at this link.

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!

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

Microsoft Closes Confidential Computing Loop with AMD’s Milan Chip

September 22, 2022

Microsoft shared details on how it uses an AMD technology to secure artificial intelligence as it builds out a secure AI infrastructure in its Azure cloud service. Microsoft has a strong relationship with Nvidia, but is also working with AMD's Epyc chips (including the new 3D VCache series), MI Instinct accelerators, and also... Read more…

Nvidia Introduces New Ada Lovelace GPU Architecture, OVX Systems, Omniverse Cloud

September 20, 2022

In his GTC keynote today, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang launched another new Nvidia GPU architecture: Ada Lovelace, named for the legendary mathematician regarded as the first computer programmer. The company also announced tw Read more…

Nvidia’s Hopper GPUs Enter ‘Full Production,’ DGXs Delayed Until Q1

September 20, 2022

Just about six months ago, Nvidia’s spring GTC event saw the announcement of its hotly anticipated Hopper GPU architecture. Now, the GPU giant is announcing that Hopper-generation GPUs (which promise greater energy eff Read more…

NeMo LLM Service: Nvidia’s First Cloud Service Makes AI Less Vague

September 20, 2022

Nvidia is trying to uncomplicate AI with a cloud service that makes AI and its many forms of computing less vague and more conversational. The NeMo LLM service, which Nvidia called its first cloud service, adds a layer of intelligence and interactivity... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1194728515

Simulating 44-Qubit quantum circuits using AWS ParallelCluster

Dr. Fabio Baruffa, Sr. HPC & QC Solutions Architect
Dr. Pavel Lougovski, Pr. QC Research Scientist
Tyson Jones, Doctoral researcher, University of Oxford

Introduction

Currently, an enormous effort is underway to develop quantum computing hardware capable of scaling to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of physical (non-error-corrected) qubits. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1166887495

Improving Insurance Fraud Detection using AI Running on Cloud-based GPU-Accelerated Systems

Insurance is a highly regulated industry that is evolving as the industry faces changing customer expectations, massive amounts of data, and increased regulations. A major issue facing the industry is tracking insurance fraud. Read more…

Nvidia Targets Computers for Robots in the Surgery Rooms

September 20, 2022

Nvidia is laying the groundwork for a future in which humans and robots will be collaborators in the surgery rooms at hospitals. The company announced a computer called IGX for Medical Devices, which will be populated in robots, image scanners and other computers and medical devices involved in patient care close to the point... Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

Nvidia Introduces New Ada Lovelace GPU Architecture, OVX Systems, Omniverse Cloud

September 20, 2022

In his GTC keynote today, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang launched another new Nvidia GPU architecture: Ada Lovelace, named for the legendary mathematician regarded as Read more…

Nvidia’s Hopper GPUs Enter ‘Full Production,’ DGXs Delayed Until Q1

September 20, 2022

Just about six months ago, Nvidia’s spring GTC event saw the announcement of its hotly anticipated Hopper GPU architecture. Now, the GPU giant is announcing t Read more…

NeMo LLM Service: Nvidia’s First Cloud Service Makes AI Less Vague

September 20, 2022

Nvidia is trying to uncomplicate AI with a cloud service that makes AI and its many forms of computing less vague and more conversational. The NeMo LLM service, which Nvidia called its first cloud service, adds a layer of intelligence and interactivity... Read more…

Nvidia Targets Computers for Robots in the Surgery Rooms

September 20, 2022

Nvidia is laying the groundwork for a future in which humans and robots will be collaborators in the surgery rooms at hospitals. The company announced a computer called IGX for Medical Devices, which will be populated in robots, image scanners and other computers and medical devices involved in patient care close to the point... Read more…

Survey Results: PsiQuantum, ORNL, and D-Wave Tackle Benchmarking, Networking, and More

September 19, 2022

The are many issues in quantum computing today – among the more pressing are benchmarking, networking and development of hybrid classical-quantum approaches. Read more…

HPC + AI Wall Street to Feature ‘Spooky’ Science for Financial Services

September 18, 2022

Albert Einstein famously described quantum mechanics as "spooky action at a distance" due to the non-intuitive nature of superposition and quantum entangled par Read more…

Analog Chips Find a New Lease of Life in Artificial Intelligence

September 17, 2022

The need for speed is a hot topic among participants at this week’s AI Hardware Summit – larger AI language models, faster chips and more bandwidth for AI machines to make accurate predictions. But some hardware startups are taking a throwback approach for AI computing to counter the more-is-better... Read more…

AWS Takes the Short and Long View of Quantum Computing

August 30, 2022

It is perhaps not surprising that the big cloud providers – a poor term really – have jumped into quantum computing. Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, and th Read more…

The Final Frontier: US Has Its First Exascale Supercomputer

May 30, 2022

In April 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to procure a trio of exascale supercomputers at a total cost of up to $1.8 billion dollars. Over the ensuing four years, many announcements were made, many deadlines were missed, and a pandemic threw the world into disarray. Now, at long last, HPE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced that the first of those... Read more…

US Senate Passes CHIPS Act Temperature Check, but Challenges Linger

July 19, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a major hurdle that will open up close to $52 billion in grants for the semiconductor industry to boost manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. U.S. senators voted 64-34 in favor of advancing the CHIPS Act, which sets the stage for the final consideration... Read more…

Top500: Exascale Is Officially Here with Debut of Frontier

May 30, 2022

The 59th installment of the Top500 list, issued today from ISC 2022 in Hamburg, Germany, officially marks a new era in supercomputing with the debut of the first-ever exascale system on the list. Frontier, deployed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieved 1.102 exaflops in its fastest High Performance Linpack run, which was completed... Read more…

Chinese Startup Biren Details BR100 GPU

August 22, 2022

Amid the high-performance GPU turf tussle between AMD and Nvidia (and soon, Intel), a new, China-based player is emerging: Biren Technology, founded in 2019 and headquartered in Shanghai. At Hot Chips 34, Biren co-founder and president Lingjie Xu and Biren CTO Mike Hong took the (virtual) stage to detail the company’s inaugural product: the Biren BR100 general-purpose GPU (GPGPU). “It is my honor to present... Read more…

Newly-Observed Higgs Mode Holds Promise in Quantum Computing

June 8, 2022

The first-ever appearance of a previously undetectable quantum excitation known as the axial Higgs mode – exciting in its own right – also holds promise for developing and manipulating higher temperature quantum materials... Read more…

AMD’s MI300 APUs to Power Exascale El Capitan Supercomputer

June 21, 2022

Additional details of the architecture of the exascale El Capitan supercomputer were disclosed today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Terri Read more…

Tesla Bulks Up Its GPU-Powered AI Super – Is Dojo Next?

August 16, 2022

Tesla has revealed that its biggest in-house AI supercomputer – which we wrote about last year – now has a total of 7,360 A100 GPUs, a nearly 28 percent uplift from its previous total of 5,760 GPUs. That’s enough GPU oomph for a top seven spot on the Top500, although the tech company best known for its electric vehicles has not publicly benchmarked the system. If it had, it would... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Exclusive Inside Look at First US Exascale Supercomputer

July 1, 2022

HPCwire takes you inside the Frontier datacenter at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for an interview with Frontier Project Direc Read more…

AMD Opens Up Chip Design to the Outside for Custom Future

June 15, 2022

AMD is getting personal with chips as it sets sail to make products more to the liking of its customers. The chipmaker detailed a modular chip future in which customers can mix and match non-AMD processors in a custom chip package. "We are focused on making it easier to implement chips with more flexibility," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD during the analyst day meeting late last week. Read more…

Intel Reiterates Plans to Merge CPU, GPU High-performance Chip Roadmaps

May 31, 2022

Intel reiterated it is well on its way to merging its roadmap of high-performance CPUs and GPUs as it shifts over to newer manufacturing processes and packaging technologies in the coming years. The company is merging the CPU and GPU lineups into a chip (codenamed Falcon Shores) which Intel has dubbed an XPU. Falcon Shores... Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

Nvidia, Intel to Power Atos-Built MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer

June 16, 2022

The long-troubled, hotly anticipated MareNostrum 5 supercomputer finally has a vendor: Atos, which will be supplying a system that includes both Nvidia and Inte Read more…

UCIe Consortium Incorporates, Nvidia and Alibaba Round Out Board

August 2, 2022

The Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) consortium is moving ahead with its effort to standardize a universal interconnect at the package level. The c Read more…

Using Exascale Supercomputers to Make Clean Fusion Energy Possible

September 2, 2022

Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and the stars, has incredible potential as a source of safe, carbon-free and essentially limitless energy. But Read more…

Is Time Running Out for Compromise on America COMPETES/USICA Act?

June 22, 2022

You may recall that efforts proposed in 2020 to remake the National Science Foundation (Endless Frontier Act) have since expanded and morphed into two gigantic bills, the America COMPETES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in the U.S. Senate. So far, efforts to reconcile the two pieces of legislation have snagged and recent reports... Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire