AGH UST represents Poland as member of an international consortium working on ultrafast European supercomputer

The scientists from the AGH UST University of Science and Technology together with their European partners will build a supercomputer that will be 10 times as fast as the currently fastest European computer. Poland is one of eight countries - members of the LUMI (Large Unified Modern Infrastructure) Consortium. Together with Finland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, the Polish team will take part in the design, installation and launch of the top class supercomputer for the purpose of scientific research. AGH UST as a member of the LUMI Consortium is represented by the CYFRONET AGH Academic Computer Centre, the operator of Poland’s fastest supercomputer – Prometheus.

The installation has been scheduled for completion already in 2020 and will be hosted at the CSC Data Centre in Kajaani, Finland. The work will be delivered within the framework of the European High Performance  (EuroHPC) Joint Undertaking – an initiative supported by the European Commission. EuroHPC has been launched to enable EU countries to build supercomputers and effectively compete with global leaders in this area, such as the US, China or Japan.

The expected computing power of EuroHPC will be around 200 PFlops (0.2 EFlops), which means that the machine will be approximately 10 times as fast as the fastest supercomputer currently operating in Europe – the Swiss Piz Daint. 1 EFlops (exaFLOPS) is equal to 1018  floating point operations performed by a supercomputer during one second. A supercomputer of this power will become one of the fastest computational devices in the world.

The supercomputer will consist of three partitions:

  • acceleration, based on general-purpose GPUs,
  • classical partition, built from traditional GPU processors,
  • data analysis partition.

For the purpose of computations, the supercomputer will be equipped with mass memory resources of over 60 PB capacity, including flash memory of over 1 TB/s bandwidth. The supercomputer will be accessible in a standard way as well as through a cloud.

The computing power of the supercomputer to be housed at Kajaani-based Computing Centre will enable researchers to handle such problems as: climate change forecasting, the development of Artificial Intelligence and clean energy production. The machine will also lend support to research in the scope of personalised medicine.  

The Computing Centre in Kajaani is one of the most modern developments of this type in Europe. Importantly, it was erected with maximum regard for environmental protection, including effectively reduced CO2 emissions. All electrical energy required for the operation of the EuroHPC supercomputer comes from renewable sources in the form of three local hydroelectric power station. Additionally, residual heat produced by EuroHPC will be re-used to supply heat for the town of Kajaani, reducing thus the use of fossil fuels.

The main strength of the LUMI Consortium lies in its unique combination of partners’ knowledge and experience both in the scope of the HPC infrastructure as well as large-scale computations. This will allow for the effective transition of the most demanding scientific computations from the petascale resources currently available in Europe to exascale computing. The Consortium has also compiled a set of best practices regarding training, user support and data management. All this knowledge combined with the available computational infrastructure is a strong foundation of the top quality ecosystem for performing computations with the use of supercomputers.

The total budget of the Pre-Exascale EuroHPC System designed at CSC in Kajaani is 207.1m euros. Half of that amount has been contributed by the European Commission while the other half will be financed jointly by the Consortium members. Poland will contribute 5m euros financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW).

The financial support awarded by the Ministry to the Consortium that will build the pre-exascale supercomputer within the framework of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will provide Polish scientists with direct access to the fastest computational resources in Europe. Computations performed with the use of the pre-exascale supercomputer alone will be enough to conduct far more advanced research than it is currently possible. The new possibilities will open up exciting vistas for ground-breaking developments in science. Overcoming the existing limitations will contribute to many new accomplishments in chemistry, material engineering, biotechnology, physics and medicine.

Polish scientists carry out research using existing supercomputers in a number of areas and applications, including artificial graphene leaves recreating the photosynthetic process, computer-based drug design, efficient catalyst and enzyme modelling, elementary particle simulations, analysis of gravitational waves and many others.

All three pre-exascale supercomputers approved for financing by EuroHPC will constitute testing platforms for the planned European launch of two exascale systems with the computing power of over one exaflops. Co-financing the supercomputers – both pre-exascale and petascale - is only one of the pillars of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking. Supercomputers are due to lend support to the other pillar, which is the development of European research in the scope of and with assistance from large scale computations. One of its main constituents will be the opening of EuroHPC Competence Centres, these being natural extensions of Digital Innovations Hubs. The main aim of the Centres will be to leverage industrial research with participation of researchers from the scientific community as well as the use of computing resources provided by EuroHPC supercomputers. The key aspect of the industrial support will be the transfer of knowledge in the scope of use of computing resources offered by supercomputers, search for partners and establishment of partnerships for joint science and industry projects, transition of research problems and software to meet the requirements of exascale computing as well as training and development of technical skills in conducting large-scale computations.

Polish activity related to the EuroHPC Competence Centre is coordinated by Cyfronet AGH, with participation from all Polish supercomputer centres. Plans are under way to ensure closer cooperation between EuroHPC Competence Centres and the countries – members of LUMI. EuroHPC Competence Centres will cater for both small and medium enterprises, large companies as well as start-ups.