EuroHPC Highlights RED-SEA Project’s Role in Paving the Way for European Exascale Systems

July 8, 2024

July 8, 2024 — The EuroHPC JU-funded project, RED-SEA, has made substantial advancements in the development of scalable and efficient interconnect technologies that are essential for exascale computing.

Launched in April 2021, the RED-SEA project has, after three intense years, recently been concluded. The RED-SEA project, along with its sister projects DEEP-SEA and IO-SEA, has developed key technologies based on the Modular Supercomputing Architecture (MSA), which will help prepare Europe for the exascale era in supercomputing. The three projects worked together on a common, blueprint architecture that will support the deployment of highly efficient and scalable exascale systems.

The RED-SEA project brought together European academics and key European industrial enterprises in the domain of interconnection networks, with a total of 12 partners from six different countries: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland. It had a budget of €8 000 000 from Horizon Europe, the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation.

EuroHPC JU interviewed Ms. Claire Chen, project coordinator of RED-SEA. Below, she highlights the key features of the project and explained what it has accomplished in the past three years.

EuroHPC: Can you please describe the RED-SEA project in your own words?

Claire Chen: Exascale supercomputers represent a significant leap in computing power and are made up processors which contain hundreds of thousands of nodes and millions of cores. With this technology, supercomputers are capable of performing a quintillion (1018) calculations per second. Every part of the supercomputer needs to work seamlessly together and to do this, they rely on an software that ensures that there is efficient distribution of tasks’ shared among all these different components.

Supercomputers use different types of processors such as GPUs for graphics and vector accelerators for extremely efficient supercomputing . These processors are essential for handling large amounts of data and running AI-related applications.

Interconnection networks are very important for the supercomputer’s performance. They serve as the backbone and handle many connections, support many parallel tasks, and work well with new data-focused and AI applications. They also need to be smart, managing resources such as energy efficiently and performing calculations within the network itself.

The RED-SEA project has focused on building the next generation of these interconnection network. It aimed to create a European network that is fast, can grow easily, and is reliable.

What have been the key objectives for the RED-SEA project and what progress has been made

Our project’s key objectives were supported by three pillars.

The first pillar focused on preparing the next-generation high-performance network interconnect technologies through specification and design. To this end, we leveraged existing European interconnect technologies like BullSequana eXascale Interconnect (BXI) and relevant Intellectual Properties (IPs) from previous EU-funded projects (e.g., Exanest).

The second pillar focused on exploring innovative network solutions.

The third pillar of our project aimed at developing an ecosystem of interconnect technologies with a community of users and developers. By bringing together research and industrial teams, we fostered collaboration and created a supportive environment for the advancement of interconnect technologies.

After three years of dedicated efforts, we have successfully advanced the state of interconnect network technologies and achieved these objectives.

One significant outcome lies in the advancement of the European Interconnect BXI, with a focus on enhancing the current version (BXIv2) and laying the groundwork for the next generation (BXIv3). Another key achievement has been the exploration of new, efficient network resource management. For example, we have enhanced network features such as collective operations by offloading collaborative work from compute resources (CPU, GPUs) to the network components. We have also improved congestion control to prevent overuse of network resources thus directly reducing global latencies.

Can you give some concrete examples of how RED-SEA project supports European HPC users and how it promotes greener and more sustainable supercomputing?

Sure! The RED-SEA project supported European HPC users and promoted greener and more sustainable supercomputing in several ways. Given the enormous power requirements of exascale computing, energy efficiency is a critical consideration for the interconnection network.

Our project has designed low-power communication protocols between the different supercomputer components and optimised network topology have contributed to minimise the overall energy consumption of the supercomputers.

We have also managed to find new techniques to offload collaborative work which will allow compute resources to focus on their primary tasks without actively managing network operations and to enable the network components to handle these operations independently. This has resulted in significant time and energy savings.

In addition to this, reducing congestion within the network enhances the efficiency of communications. In summary, we also focused on optimising the global performance of HPC systems, allowing users to accomplish more computational tasks with less energy consumption.

Our project has provided users with support in efficient and sustainable interconnect networks solutions, fostering collaboration, and driving innovation in green computing practices. Another aspect of this support is the use of simulation which is a popular method for evaluating the behavior and performance of IT systems such as HPC clusters. Simulation has been extensively used to model and assess new designs for high-performance interconnection networks. These simulation tools have been instrumental in designing next-generation interconnects within the project.

We also offered open-source tools that enable the collection of network traces and network simulators to reproduce the communication traffic of parallel applications in high-performance interconnection networks. By providing these tools, users, and developers can evaluate the performance of interconnect networks in their IT environments, thus enhancing their ability to innovate and optimise interconnect networks effectively.

This comprehensive support will allow users to leverage cutting-edge tools to drive advancements in HPC and interconnect network design.

What were the main challenges you encountered during the project’s development, if any?

The main challenges we faced was the development of a prototype of the new gateway. We explored and evaluated various technologies which generated a lot of changes in the design and increased the complexity of testing activities.

We also had to deal with changes in the project team, resource allocation and dissemination difficulties. However, we overcame these challenges thanks to proactive problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability of everyone involved.

How is the development of the RED-SEA project supporting the ambition of the EuroHPC JU to make Europe a world-leader in supercomputing?

It is important to remember that interconnect networks play a pivotal role in the overall performance of Exascale systems and will serve as a backbone to future Exascale systems. By advancing high-performance interconnect technologies such as BXI, RED-SEA enhanced Europe’s capabilities in building exascale systems.

I believe that the RED-SEA collaboration is unique and strengthened Europe’s innovation ecosystem and its competitiveness in the global supercomputing landscape. Overall, I am proud to say that the progress made within the RED-SEA project aligns closely with EuroHPC JU’s objectives of establishing Europe as a world leader in supercomputing.

What’s next for your project and the results developed under this project?

We have identified and developed 21 RED-SEA exploitable results and two patents. Over half of these results are product-related, with some already integrated into commercial products. The other results should be integrated into commercial products within two years.

The outcomes of the RED-SEA project have also laid the groundwork for the specification and design of BXIv3, the next generation of high-performance network interface card designed for advanced computing environments, so hopefully it will be developed in future projects.

Next Steps

Following the conclusion of the RED-SEA project in March 2024, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is currently evaluating proposals submitted in response to the call for Innovation Action in Low Latency and High Bandwidth Interconnects.

This call will continue to advance European capabilities in HPC by developing a comprehensive roadmap for scalable inter-node interconnects, specifically targeting exascale and post-exascale systems.

The new proposals will build on the achievements of the RED-SEA project, incorporating the project’s findings and advancements. The call aimed at addressing the complete lifecycle of interconnect hardware and software, from design and development to testing and integration. The focus will also need to include features/capabilities ensuring high speed, low-delay, energy efficiency, virtualisation, scalability, reliability, and security.

Source: EuroHPC JU

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