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PRACE-4IP Report Summary

Project ID: 653838
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PRACE-4IP (PRACE 4th Implementation Phase Project)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

PRACE, the Partnership for Advanced Computing, was established in May 2010 as a permanent pan-European High Performance Computing service providing world-class systems for world-class science. Six systems at the highest performance level (Tier-0) are deployed by Germany, France, Italy and Spain providing researchers with over 10.7 thousand million core hours of compute time. HPC experts from twenty-five member states - funded in part in the implementation projects - enabled users from academia and industry to ascertain leadership and remain competitive in the Global Race. Currently, PRACE is preparing for PRACE 2, the successor of the initial five-year period.
The objectives of PRACE-4IP are to build on and seamlessly continue the successes of PRACE and start new innovative and collaborative activities proposed by the consortium.
Ensure long-term sustainability of the infrastructure. The project will assist the PRACE Research Infrastructure (PRACE RI) in managing the transition from the business model used in the Initial Period. It demonstrated the case for a European HPC research infrastructure relying on the strong engagement of four hosting partners (BSC representing Spain, CINECA representing Italy, GCS representing Germany and GENCI representing France) who funded and deployed the Petaflop/s systems used by PRACE RI.
Promote Europe’s leadership in HPC applications. Scientific and engineering modelling and simulation require capabilities of supercomputers. The project will enable application codes for PRACE leadership platforms and prepare for future systems, notably those with architectural innovation embodied in accelerators or co-processors, by investigating new programming tools and developing suitable benchmarks.
Increase European human resources skilled in HPC and HPC applications. The project will contribute by organising highly visible events, enhancing the state of the art training provided by the PRACE Advanced Training Centres (PATCs), targeting both the academic and industrial domains. Online training will be improved and a pilot deployment will assess a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).
Support a balanced eco-system of HPC resources for Europe’s researchers. The project will contribute to this objective through Tasks addressing: a) the improvement of PRACE operations; b) the prototyping of new services including “urgent computing”, the visualization of extreme size computational data, and the provision of repositories for open source scientific libraries. Links will be established with other e-Infrastructures, the Centres of Excellence (CoEs) that have been created in Horizon 2020 and the existing international collaborations will be extended.
Evaluate new technologies and define Europe’s path for using ExaFlop/s resources. The project will extend its market watch and evaluation based on user requirements, study best practices for energy-efficiency and lower environmental impact throughout the life cycle of large HPC infrastructures and define best practices for prototype planning and evaluation. This will contribute to solve a wide range of technological, architectural and programming challenges for the Exaflop/s area.
Disseminate effectively the PRACE results. This targets engaging European scientists and engineers in the wider utilisation of high end HPC. The project will continue to organise well known events like PRACEdays, Summer of HPC or the International HPC Summer School in order to promote and support innovative scientific approaches in modelling, simulation and data-analysis. With the extended presence at conferences (e.g. SC, ISC or ICT) the project is seeking wider support of a wide cross-section of stakeholders for investment in HPC, in particular by illustrating success stories and raising awareness in the potential for development.
The activities are designed to increase Europe's research and innovation potential especially through: seamless and efficient Tier-0 services and a pan-European HPC ecosystem including national capabilities; promoting take-up by industry and special offers to SMEs; analysing new flexible business models for PRACE 2; proposing strategies for deployment of leadership systems; collaborating with the ETP4HPC, the coming CoEs and other European and international organisations on future architectures, training, application support and policies.
PRACE-4IP is coordinated and managed by Forschungszentrum Juelich. It has a budget of nearly 16,5 Mio € including an EC contribution of 15 Mio €. The duration will be of 27 months.
Over 250 researchers collaborate in PRACE from 49 organisations in 25 countries. 113 collaborators met in Ostrava from 28-29 April 2015, for the PRACE-4IP kick-off meeting. The meeting was organised by IT4Innovations and held at the Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic. Almost one year later about 100 collaborators met again in Rom from 12-13 April 2016 for the PRACE-4IP all hands meeting.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"15 months after its start in February 2015 the project has already achieved important milestones, building on the successful work of the 3rd Implementation Phase Project.
- Work Package 1: Management of the Contract
The management and governance structure of the project was implemented. All communication tools are in place. The kick-off meeting was held in Ostrava on 28-29 April 2015 and all Work Packages started the work on the PRACE-4IP objectives. On 12 – 13 April 2016 an all hands meeting was organised in Rome.
- Work Package 2: Organisational Concept of the RI
D2.1 ‘First Report on PRACE 2.0 Development’ provides a detailed report on the support of Task 2.1 towards PRACE aisbl and the project. The management and processes of PRACE aisbl (Task 2.2) and the relations with stakeholders and other communities (Task 2.3) were analysed and reviewed in the light of the current status of preparation for PRACE 2.
- Work Package 3: Communication and Dissemination
Parts of the plans outlined in D3.1’Communication and Outreach Update Plan’ have already been implemented and even completed. The website has been improved, maintained and updated with PRACE-4IP information. The PRACE dissemination material was produced or updated. PRACE social media accounts were kept up to date with PRACE news and information and the work to harmonise these has started. PRACEdays15 (MS6) was held with satellite events, and attracted close to 200 participants. PRACE was present at ISC’15, SC’15 and the Project Information and Dissemination Event - PRIDE 2015. The PRACE Digest 2015 was launched at SC’15. Two stand-alone success stories were published. The set of 8 PRACE Fact Sheets (MS10) was completed and published. The PRACE Summer of HPC 2015 was launched. D3.2 ‘Communication and Outreach Report Year1’ highlights all communication and dissemination activities in the first 15 months.
- Work Package 4: Training
D4.1 ‘Interim PRACE Training Report’ summarises the PRACE training activities. During the reporting period WP4 focused on the selection process and selection of upcoming seasonal schools and the organisation of the International HPC Summer School for 2016 in Europe. PATCs have been operating actively during the whole PRACE-4IP so far by organising 75 training events as a part of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 curriculum. As a part of the PATC continuity plan, a working group has been established for the assessment of the PATC network. Its analysis and recommendations are included in D4.3 ‘Assessment of PRACE Advanced Training Centres’. A code sharing platform (CodeVault) developed in collaboration with WP6 and WP7 and a MOOC pilot for HPC were initially discussed and analysed.
- Work Package 5: HPC Commissioning and Prototyping
During the reporting period, WP5 set up the structure and started the work for the Task 5.1: Procurement Independent Vendor Relations and Market Watch, Task 5.2 Best Practices for Energy-Efficient HPC Centre Infrastructures Design and Operations and Task 5.3 Best Practices for Prototype Planning. The 6th and 7th European Workshop on HPC Centre Infrastructures was organised by SNIC-KTH and GCS-LRZ (MS 19, MS20 and D5.3 ‘HPC Infrastructure Workshop #6’). D5.1 ‘Market and Technology Watch Report Year 1’ gives an extended overview on the current HPC market and new developments (MS17). The application requirements towards prototyping projects are presented in D5.5’ Application and HPC Centre Requirements for Prototyping’ (MS21).
- Work Package 6: Operational Services for the HPC Eco-System
The successful operation of two Tier-0 services (FERMI and MareNostrum) was continued. The coordination of the activities of the PRACE Security Forum was continued. Several tools and new services were evaluated. D6.3 ‘Analysis of New Services’ presents 4 new prototypal services and defines the work plans for the coming months. An inventory of links with e-Infrastructures and CoEs was established and is presented in D6.5 ‘Inventory of Links with e-Infrastructures and CoEs’. The activities of the first 15 months of WP6 are reported in D6.1 ‘First annual Report on the PRACE Operational Services’ (MS23).
- Work Package 7: Application Enabling and Support
WP7 provides services to enable applications on Tier-0 systems (Preparatory Access Type C) and for industrial users (SHAPE); progress on these was reported in D7.1 ‘Periodic Report on Applications Enabling’.
Work started to develop links with the CoEs for Exascale Tools and Techniques. A questionnaire for collecting needs for exascale tools and techniques was analysed in deliverable D7.3 ‘Inventory of Exascale Tools and Techniques’. 12 applications for the benchmark suite for accelerators were identified. The update of the Unified European Applications Benchmark Suite was prepared (MS27). The Task assignment for contributing appropriate code samples in a variety of key programming paradigms to the PRACE CodeVault has been completed and most of the code owners have already generated a 2-phase work plan for their group (MS28)."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The planned socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of PRACE-4IP cover several aspects:
1. Reinforcing Europe’s global competitiveness. Work in the project and connection with the CoEs will, for instance, permit the design of more efficient products in energy, transportation, materials and electronics. The project will contribute in facilitating the transfer of knowledge obtained by the utilisation of novel applications requiring petascale computers or enabled by the transition to exascale. This involves a variety of actors and processes whose co-operation is served by the project’s work in human networking and training and HPC ecosystem improvement.
2. Successfully dealing with societal challenges: The project has analysed the most likely new areas where HPC has potential to make a significant impact. The following directions were identified as initial targets: a) personalised medicine and genomic biology; b) mitigating natural or man-made risks; c) support research on new energies and transportation.
3. Involving SMEs in the pursuit of added innovation in the European economy: SMEs encounter difficulties hampering the utilisation of HPC applications and technologies. The SHAPE programme has been set up to help European SMEs overcome barriers to using HPC. The project will enable its extension, exploiting the experience gained and widening the programme.
Concerning the HPC supply industries, the project will have impact in several directions:
1. Enhancing innovation and IP creation in IT technologies. The project depends on pushing technologies to the limit and will therefore give good incentives for industrial progress. Significant HPC and application expertise is present within PRACE users which will be perfected by confronting the exascale barrier. The project will look for opportunities to utilise this expertise and contribute to European exascale activities in a structured way by working with the European supply industry and the ETP4HPC partners, through joint projects or procurement of innovation.
2. Developing skills in HPC and its applications. This is the result of collaboration with the ETP4HPC and its partners, and also of the project’s enhancements to the PRACE training programme, to better understand and meet emerging and evolving training requirements across the HPC community.

Related information

Record Number: 190142 / Last updated on: 2016-11-08
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