ETP4HPC: the future of HPC in Europe is at stake…
By and   |  December 27, 2013

Right now, the decision is being made as to what strategy the “Old continent” will be taking in the race to Exascale and beyond. At a time when the two major blocks of countries either side of Europe are competing against each other in their computing ambitions, the question of European leadership in HPC is more acute than ever. To address it, the program put together by ETP4HTP is aiming to be concrete, overarching and… intelligently funded.

Support the competitiveness of European HPC technologies to support Europe’s competitiveness in general – that’s how one could sum up the mission of ETP4HPC, the new European Technology Platform for HPC. Established in mid-2012, the organization initially brought together HPC manufacturers and ISVs – Allinea, ARM, Bull, CAPS Entreprise, Eurotech, IBM, Intel, Partec, STMicroelectronics and Xyratex – but also major computing centers and research bodies such as BSC, CEA, CINECA, Fraunhofer, Forschungszentrum Jülich and LRZ. As a platform opened to any organization working in HPC R&D in Europe, or contributing to the development of a European HPC ecosystem, ETP4HPC is also growing itself. As we go to press, the initiative has brought on board another twenty members, and several SMEs are in the process of signing up.

ETP4HPC was born with the publication of its first Vision paper, followed several weeks later by its first official letter to European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes. After almost a year of preparatory discussions between the members and with political institutions, ETP4HPC’s work has now been set out publicly in its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA): Achieving HPC Leadership in Europe. Producing an SRA is effectively the whole raison d’être for an ETP (see Understanding European Technology Platforms). Based on the collective vision of those involved in the sector, it sets out a number of paths to be taken, both in terms of research objectives and its sustainable funding.

Supporting the ecosystem as a whole

While the Vision Paper defines the ETP’s objectives and missions by outlining the issues to be considered in the overall R&D program, the SRA sets out a detailed menu for the program by drawing out the main principles for the construction and orchestration of a complete ecosystem. The first difficulty was to define R&D priorities across all HPC technologies. To do this, the ETP members wanted to solicit the opinions of other experts (see Behind the scenes…), as well as an expression of user needs from the private sector and from computer simulation software publishers. The latter represent an essential link in the value chain, between technologies and “business” usages, in the vast majority of economic areas. As a result, over 100 contributors were approached.

ETP4HPC’s interactions with the industry and ISVs explicitly confirmed the importance not just of producing very large scale supercomputers in Europe, but also medium-sized systems that are robust, affordable, efficient and easily programmable. To this effect, the SRA prepared by ETP4HPC is structured according to a multi-dimensional model detailed next page.

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