Beauty contest for EuroHPC pre-exascale hosting entities continues

Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and Spain's Minister for Science, Innovation and Universities, Pedro Duque, sign collaboration agreement on collaboration in Barcelona, 11 February 2019
12 Feb 2019 Barcelona, Helsinki - Two of the consortia that intend to compete to host a EuroHPC pre-exascale supercomputer have reveiled more details about their commitment. The science ministers of Spain and Portugal confirmed at their meeting in Barcelona their committment to form a consortium to bid for pre-exascale hosting entity. The Finnish consortium than combines potentially 8 countries went a step further. In a paper "How to build a truly European next generation HPC infrastructure? Collaboration Smart Specialisation Sustainable Future" they also cite several ministers' commitment. But they also explain why their consortium is the best. For instance all countries in their consortium have financial AA or higher ratings, while the competition such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy have A or even BBB ratings. We did not hear anything recently from the third candidate, Italy with CINECA as potential hosting entity. Of course, there can be other candidates too, it is not required to seek publicity: you just have to put in an eligeable proposal by April 4th.

Portugal and Spain submit joint bid for European supercomputer programme

Portugal and Spain will form a consortium for advanced computing to submit a joint application to European funds for this area. In November, at the Portuges-Spanish Summit, the two governments pledged to promote a joint bid for the installation of two advanced computing machines, one in each country.

The Portuges Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, was in Barcelona, where he met with Spain's Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Pedro Duque, to assess the progress of the agreements reached at the Portuguese-Spanish Summit .

The peninsular candidacy (which will compete with that of North and Eastern European countries) will give Portugal "an unprecedented computing capacity" to process data, namely in "new applications in the area of artificial intelligence, such as autonomous driving, cybersecurity and mobility in cities", Minister Manuel Heitor said.

The application, being developed by the two countries within the Iberian Network of Advanced Computing, involves the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CSN) and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

If it wins, it will bring to Spain and Portugal two supercomputers of the European Joint Undertaking for High Performance Computing (EuroHPC), to be installed in Barcelona and Braga, at the University of Minho. Probably this means a pre-exascale system at Barcelona, Spain, and a petascale system at Braga. The EuroHPC call for petascale hosting entities is not yet opened.

What is in the Finnish beauty case?

The 12-page Finnish teaser to support their bid for pre-exascale hosting entity has a lot of numbers showing why the consortium consisting of seven countries is the best option:

Mika Lintila, Finland's Minister of Economic Affairs says for instance: "Placing Europe's fastest supercomputer in Finland would significantly strengthen and complement Europe's computing and data management research environment. In addition, it would serve the European industry and increase our expertise in the field. Placing the supercomputer in Finland would create the conditions for the creation of a wider data cluster. Kajaani is an excellent location for data centres due to cost-efficiency, environmental sustainability, and high information security."

Operating costs, especially electricity, are considerably cheaper in Finland than in e.g. Southern Europe, this consortium is able to install a larger system at a lower price. The paper cites EuroStat for electricity costs: 55 euro per MWh in 2016 in Finland. EU average was 114 euro per MWh. The electricity used by the Finnish CSC's Kajaani data centre is fully renewable. There are several local hydropower plants, and abundant green power is available. Cooling is deployed efficiently resulting in PUE 1,04.

Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Finland's Minister of Education summarizes the consortiim's assets as follows: "The corner stones of the preparation for our European HPC consortium are Finnish world-class data intensive research and know-how as well as CSC's unique service concept. Boosting our common skills development is the main driver for Finland and the potential partner countries to be part of European HPC development and co- operation. The pre-exascale supercomputer strengthens European co-operation and complements our national supercomputing environments."

The Finnish document can be found at:

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