HPC User Forum Considers State of the Art in European Supercomputing

08 October 2018

The meeting brought together representatives of Germany's national supercomputing centers, HPC hardware manufacturers, and HPC users in industry to discuss current trends and challenges in the field.

Organized by HPC industry consultants Hyperion Research, the 2018 HPC User Forum took place at HLRS on October 1-2, 2018. It offered an intimate venue for promoting interactions among HPC users and technology suppliers, and provided insights into how supercomputers and their uses are evolving.

Following an HPC industry overview by Hyperion's Earl Joseph and Steve Conway, and an introduction to the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing's smart scaling initiative by GCS director Michael Resch, the three GCS centers described their latest improvements. JSC Deputy Head Norbert Attig introduced JUWELS, the world's first supercomputer based on a modular architecture. He described plans to boost its capabilities in the coming years, investments that GCS is making in facilitating better data transfer between supercomputing centers, and GCS initiatives to provide high-level user support. LRZ Director Dieter Kranzlmüller highlighted the Garching center's new system, SuperMUC-NG. He focused on its unique energy efficiency features, LRZ's deployment of cloud infrastructure for data pre- and post-processing, and some exciting application areas in which the new supercomputer is being used. HLRS Managing Director Bastian Koller described HLRS's growth in personnel and funding, highlighting its recent successes in securing EU center of excellence grants and expanding professional training offerings through the Supercomputing-Akademie.

Leonardo Flores of the European Commission provided an overview of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, an initiative to implement an EU strategy for exascale computing. He reported on the current roadmap, which intends to support development of both infrastructure and HPC expertise. The program plans to contribute to the creation of two to three more petascale computers and two larger, pre-exascale machines by 2020, two exascale machines by 2023, and the first post-exascale system by 2027. Flores reported that EuroHPC also intends to focus on the development of expertise in related areas such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Leonardo Flores (European Commission)

Leonardo Flores from the European Commission described
the goals of 
the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking. (Photo: HLRS)

Representatives of several leading HPC hardware manufacturers — including Lenovo, Verne Global, Cray, IBM, and Inspur — also gave overviews of their current product development strategies. Among the current challenges the manufacturers discussed were improving energy efficiency, managing increased power and cooling requirements, addressing exploding needs for data storage, and accelerating input and output among computing nodes in HPC systems.

Industry users of HPC were also represented, including Daimler, ETAS, and Bosch. Several talks focused on current methods for developing autonomously driving vehicles. In addition, presentations by representatives of Sicos-BW, the Fortissimo Project, and a newly funded project based at HLRS called EXCELLERAT looked at challenges facing HPC users in industry.

An additional highlight was a provocative presentation by GCS Director Michael Resch that urged the supercomputing community and its users to begin to rethink how HPC technologies are developed. Considering the signs that Moore's Law may have run its course, Resch suggested that the time is ripe to begin reconceiving HPC hardware and software so that they more effectively and efficiently manage today's most important simulation challenges.

Christopher Williams