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PRACE 4th Implementation Phase Project

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PRACE-4IP (PRACE 4th Implementation Phase Project)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2017-12-31

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. Through funding agreements, PRACE secured funding from initially four (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) and most recently five European countries (with the addition of Switzerland) that committed to host leading-edge supercomputers at the highest performance level in Europe. In addition, from March 2017 all general PRACE partners committed to fund High Level Support Teams (HLST) at the Hosting Sites in order to support PRACE users. HPC experts from twenty-five member states - funded in part by the Implementation Projects, enabled users from academia and industry to ascertain leadership and remain competitive in the Global Race. Currently, PRACE is in the transition to PRACE 2, the successor of the initial five-year period.
The objectives of PRACE-4IP wre to build on and seamlessly continued the successes of PRACE and started new innovative and collaborative activities proposed by the consortium. These include:
- Achieve long-term sustainability of the infrastructure.
- Promote Europe’s leadership in HPC applications.
- Build up European human resources skilled in HPC and HPC applications.
- Enable a balanced eco-system of HPC resources for Europe’s researchers.
- Evaluate new technologies and define Europe’s path for using ExaFlop/s resources.
- Disseminate effectively the PRACE results.
These activities were 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 use of HPC 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 was coordinated and managed by Forschungszentrum Juelich. It had a budget of nearly 16,5 Mio € including an EC contribution of 15 Mio €. With the 3rd Contract Amendment signed at the beginning of April 2017, the duration of the project was extended by 8 months reaching in total 35 months.
At the end of the PRACE-4IP project, 35 months after it began in February 2015, the project has achieved all milestones and completed its objectives:
- WP1: Management of the Contract: The management and governance structure of the project worked well. Three Contract Amendments were prepared by PMO and accepted by the EC. The first and second Project Reviews were held in June 2016 and June 2017.
- WP2: Organisational Concept of the RI: This WP provided support for the implementation of PRACE 2 programme, a detailed analysis of the Data Protection Policy and legal support regarding the copyright policy. The management and processes of PRACE aisbl and the relations with stakeholders and other communities were reviewed in light of the new PRACE 2 programme. The stakeholder analysis was updated to include recent HPC stakeholders (EOSC, EDI, among others).
- WP3: Communication and Dissemination: All planned activities have been implemented and completed. The website has been improved, maintained and updated with PRACE-4IP and PRACE 2 information. The PRACE dissemination material was also produced or updated and social media accounts were kept up to date with PRACE news and information.
- WP4: Training: The International HPC Summer School for 2016 in Europe was successfully organised in June 2016. The PATCs continued delivering 225 course days that span the 2015-16 and 2016-17 PATC programmes. PTC preparatory work was carried out. A code sharing platform (CodeVault) was developed and launched in collaboration with WP6 and WP7 and two HPC MOOC pilots were delivered.
- WP5: HPC Commissioning and Prototyping: The 6th, 7th and 8th European Workshop on HPC Centre Infrastructures were organised by SNIC-KTH, GCS-LRZ and CSCS. The reports ‘Market and Technology Watch Report Year 1 and Year 2’ were published.
- WP6: Operational Services for the HPC Eco-System: Two Tier-0 systems were operated and seven sites have upgraded their systems. The security collaboration was intensified. Support was provided for the installation and high precision energy measurement for the PRACE PCP prototypes.
- WP7: Application Enabling and Support: WP7 provides services to enable applications on Tier-0 systems (Preparatory Access Type C) and for industrial users (SHAPE). A new enabling service (Preparatory Access Type D) to provide a more effective migration path between Tier-1 and Tier-0 was prepared. Selected codes from the accelerated UEABS were run on the PRACE PCP prototypes to provide useful information on performance and energy usage for future Exascale systems.’
The planned socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of PRACE-4IP cover several aspects, including the following:
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 supercomputers 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) high precision 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. New elements for a sustainable and scalable SHAPE were discussed with the IAC.
Concerning the HPC supply industries, the project will have an impact in several directions such as the following:
1. Enhancing innovation and IP creation in IT technologies. The project strives for 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 enhancements to the PRACE training programme, to better understand and meet emerging and evolving training requirements across the HPC community.

A long version of the Summary for publication can be downloaded here: