Computing Paradigms Invited Talk

Norbert Attig (Julich Supercomputing Centre)  

The Path to Exascale: A European Perspective

Recent developments in supercomputing are reviewed covering both the latest hardware trends and the increasing difficulties faced by scientists in utilising these machines to perform large-scale numerical simulations. The role of one of the major European players in supercomputing, the Julich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) in Germany is described in this context. Since 1986 the primary mission of JSC has been the provision of supercomputing capacities of the highest performance class to the scientific and engineering research communities at national and European universities and research institutions [1].

With the increasing prevalence of architectures based on massively parallel and multi-core processor topologies, simulation scientists are now compelled to take scalability into account when developing new models or when porting long-established codes to new machines. To meet this challenge, JSC has pioneered the introduction of community-oriented support units for scientific computing, so called Simulation Laboratories. Progress in establishing these units and first success stories are reported on [2].

Besides its efforts in strengthening the computational sciences, JSC is actively investigating future architectures and their application, primarily in cooperation with hardware vendors. Since 2010, JSC has established joint Exascale Laboratories with IBM, Intel, and NVIDIA, to give such collaborations a more formal framework with binding resource commitments, multi-year work plans, and agreements on intellectual property rights. First-hand experiences with this new kind of collaboration and some highlights are presented [3].

Finally, an outlook is given of the most challenging requirements of applications in the near future and how applications should evolve over the next few years to profit most from Exascale developments.