Brussels, 15 Dec 2004
Eight European research institutes are linking four supercomputers to create one powerful megacomputer in a bid to boost Europe's competitiveness in scientific areas where extreme performance is needed.
Connecting the four national supercomputing infrastructures at European level will greatly enhance the speed of complex scientific calculations and allow scientists to perform research that would otherwise have been impossible. The innovative strategy, called Distributed Infrastructure for Super Computing Applications (DEISA), is partly funded by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
'This Research Infrastructures FP6 project aims at creating a world class, virtual European HPC centre at the forefront of technology and performance, and at efficiently interfacing this new facility to the global European computing environment,' explains the consortium.
This will be made possible through the integration of the existing national high-end platforms, coupled with a dedicated high-speed network and supported by innovative systems and grid software.
Combining the four supercomputers will cost much less than building a new one with the same capacities. As the consortium explains, 'the increasing global competition between Europe, the US and Japan is inducing growing demands for computational resources at the highest performance levels, as well as a need for fast innovation. To stay competitive, major investments are needed every two years - an innovation cycle that is difficult to follow even for the most prosperous countries.'
The DEISA's powerful new megacomputer is expected to support a substantial number of research activities in different scientific sectors, such as material sciences, cosmology and astrophysics, plasma physics, life sciences, fusion oriented energy research, quantum chemistry, climate research and industrial computational fluid dynamics.
In the life sciences, for example, the megacomputer will be invaluable. Indeed, calculating the way a protein folds requires record computing power due to the huge number of possible permutations. Such calculations are vital for researchers as they hold the key to determining how proteins interact with other molecules.
'A tightly integrated European supercomputing environment is mandatory to share the extreme computational resources that are needed for extreme efficiency and performance,' explains the director of the project, Victor Alessandrini from IDRIS-CNRS (the Institute of Development and Resources in Scientific Informatics at the French National Centre for Scientific Research). 'This is the road that is being paved by DEISA,' added Professor Alessandrini.
Considered as a single machine, the new megacomputer will rank fourth in the world, behind the US' Bluegene and Columbia, and Earth Simulator in Japan. It is expected to be ready by the middle of 2005.
For further information on DEISA, please visit:
For information on the research infrastructures programme, please visit:
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