June 9, 2023 — IBM and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS), Spain’s national supercomputing center and an International Centre of Excellence in e-Science, have announced an expansion of their long-term research and technology partnership.
This announcement was made at the RISC-V Summit Europe in Barcelona. The new focus of their partnership will be on the development of the “Future of Computing”, an initiative by BSC and IBM. This collaboration further solidifies IBM’s commitment to advancing European technology and aligns with the EU’s technology sovereignty strategy.
As part of this partnership agreement, scientists and engineers from IBM and BSC will work together on fundamental research to advance the initiative. This research is expected to be valuable not only for future technologies but also for IBM’s products, solutions, and services. The initiative also seeks to cultivate local talent and foster research projects, contributing to the creation and expansion of European technologies. This includes the development of new, energy-efficient processors using European technology. These processors, designed to alleviate chip shortages and bolster European technology sovereignty, will initially be used for high-performance computing (HPC) loads. However, the initiative aims to eventually extend their use to various business applications.
Established in 2005, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has been instrumental in promoting research, technological implementation, management, and knowledge transfer in the realm of HPC within Spain and Europe. Its efforts have been pivotal in enhancing international competitiveness in science and engineering. BSC’s work aims to propel advancements across multiple scientific fields, particularly in computer, life, earth, and engineering sciences. In addition, BSC is responsible for managing the Spanish Supercomputing Network (Red Española de Supercomputación, RES) and is a hosting member of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) initiative.
“There is an old saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.’ We expect our partnership with BSC will lead to scientific breakthroughs, acceleration of the adoption of computing for the coming era, and active engagement into the critical societal challenges of humanity. I believe that today, more than ever, we need innovation to meet the demands of many of the major challenges of our time — from models to create sustainable growth, to addressing future pandemics and climate change, to enabling energy and food security. We also aim to contribute to the realization of a better future society by nurturing diverse talents” said Horacio Morell, President of IBM Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel.
BSC Director Mateo Valero stated: “The BSC has worked alongside IBM throughout the 25 years that have passed since the creation of the CEPBA-IBM research centre at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), always with a firm commitment to making progress in the great challenges that we face as a society, such as climate change, the generation of new energy sources or the emergence of epidemics that directly affect people. The solutions to these problems require science, and science increasingly requires large infrastructures, such as the MareNostrum supercomputer, without which scientific and technological progress is inconceivable today.”
With this new partnership agreement, IBM continues to make advances in research and development towards building next-generation systems that will realize the “Future of Computing” vision. BSC has accumulated significant expertise and experience in developing software technologies, optimization of applications and operation of high-performance systems.
The agreement has been signed during the first ever RISC-V Summit Europe, a benchmark event in open-source hardware development. The event brings together developers, architects, executives and policy makers from across the global RISC-V ecosystem.
Strong 18-year Relationship Between IBM and BSC
The “Future of Computing” initiative, led jointly by Horacio Morell, General Manager of IBM in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Israel, and Mateo Valero, Director of BSC, is built upon an established 18-year partnership between IBM and BSC. This partnership has been marked by shared technology development and knowledge exchange. The initiative aims to encourage the exchange of ideas not just within the two institutions, but also within the broader research and industry community in the region.
This new agreement underlines IBM’s commitment to fostering European technology and research initiatives. It aligns with the EU’s strategy on data and technological sovereignty, and it broadens IBM’s partner ecosystem to further accelerate scientific discovery and stimulate economic growth.
The collaboration agreement arrives at a crucial time for BSC, coinciding with the launch of MareNostrum 5, slated to become one of the most powerful supercomputers not only in Europe but globally.
BSC’s partnership with IBM highlights its determination to continue advancing and solidifying its position as a leading center devoted to developing European hardware. This hardware is intended for use in future supercomputer generations, contributing to the achievement of technological sovereignty for EU member states.
Future of Education
IBM and BSC both acknowledge the crucial need to equip students with the advanced skills and knowledge required to compete in today’s industry. Recent surveys in the EU suggest a potential shortage of technical personnel with the necessary capabilities. This collaboration presents an opportunity to expedite the development of knowledge and experience in the region.
Under the terms of this agreement, IBM will contribute 3 million Euros (600,000€ annually) towards scholarships. These funds will support education or research activities carried out by PhD students and BSC researchers over the five-year duration of the partnership agreement.
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Barcelona Supercomputing Center-Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) is the national supercomputing center in Spain. The center is specialized in high performance computing (HPC) and manages MareNostrum, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, located in the Torre Girona chapel. BSC is involved in a number of projects to design and develop energy efficient and high performance chips, based on open architectures like RISC-V, for use within future exascale supercomputers and other high performance domains. The center leads the pillar of the European Processor Project (EPI), creating a high performance accelerator based on RISC-V.