Improving Norwegian research infrastructure with Experimental Infrastructure for Exploration of Exascale Computing

Out of 92 applications, 19 projects have been invited to contract negotiations in the fifth round of national investments in research infrastructure. Simula's project on exascale computing is one of the projects that will receive a grant from the Research Council of Norway. The project aims to prepare Norwegian researchers, big data users, data center management, and industry for the coming exascale era of computing.

Handling large amounts of data and computations

Electronic infrastructure is essential for an increasing number of disciplines, and it is particularly important for research that requires demanding calculations, or generates large amounts of data. The project "Experimental Infrastructure for Exploration of Exascale Computing", or eX³, is a high performance computing project that develops competence and techniques for the coming generation supercomputers. Such exascale computers will be able to perform at a minimum of a billion billion (10^18) floating point operations per second. This new generation of high performance computing, which will be necessary to handle the exponentially increasing, complex data that is being generated in research and in applications, is a major target for international research.

Complex programming of exascale computers

There is still a stretch to go before the milestone of a billion billion operations per second is reached. This upcoming generation of computing will rely on an intricate interplay between thousands of sophisticated processing nodes, each with a large number of cores, deep memory hierarchies and equipped with accelerators, organized in complex communication topologies. The aggregated level of complexity in a system designed for billion-way concurrency represents a major challenge with many features: How to program such computers? How to port existing code, and how to reach a satisfactory level of reliability and efficiency while maintaining an acceptable energy footprint?

Keep pace with frontier research

While competing technologies in hardware, middleware, and software are being driven by major research projects in the United States, China, Japan and the EU, it is essential for Norwegian HPC research groups to keep pace with the frontier research. This means to build a strong competence on the upcoming exascale technology, thereby helping the entire Norwegian research community to be well prepared. Together with partners, Simula Research Laboratory proposes to establish eX³ with the aim of becoming exactly the previously missing national resource that can pave the way for exascale computing in Norway. The eX³ project is designed to run for five years, funded by the RCN program for national research infrastructures. In addition to the host institution Simula, the project consortium also counts the national HPC management body Sigma2, HPC research groups from University of Tromsø and University of Bergen, and the multi-institutional research centers of excellence: SIRIUS, Big Insight, and Center for Cardiological Innovation), as well as the HPC technology providers Dolphin, Numascale, and Fabriscale.

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