German Government reconfirms its support for supercomputing development on a national and European scale

HLRS in Stuttgart, one of the major supercomputing centres in Germany.
25 Feb 2019 Bonn - The German Government considers access and use of HPC infrastructure necessary for the competitiveness of science and industry. Without simulation on HPC systems and supercomputers, fundamental research for energy, material and social sciences, and climate research are not possible. HPC is also needed for innovative products in key areas of the Germany economy, including electronic equipment, automotive, airplanes, and new drugs. This was confirmed in a detailed answer to the German parliament. It confirms the HPC policy laid out two years ago by Germany.

Apart from already well-established application areas for HPC, new areas are also advanced thanks to HPC, such as Artificial Intelligence or Big Data.

According to the German Government, France and Germany are leading in HPC capacity in Europe. Apart from Switzerland, Germany is the only European country in the top 10 of fastest supercomputers in the world, with the SuperMUC supercomputer in Munich/Garching.

To be able to work on the highest level of HPC and supercomputing, one needs knowledge and expertise in HPC hardware and architecture. Running HPC systems also requires expertise in specific system software, programming languages, compilers and run-time environments. Especially parallelisation of application software, development of tools and production environments, and porting to HPC systems are required. According to the German Government, the country is already leading in application and HPC software. The topics also fit nicely the 2019 EuroHPC Research and Development plan.

The German government wants to continue its support for the collaboration of Germany's three largests supercomputer centres with the "Gauss Center für Supercomputing". The development of exascale capable systems will also be pursued with this collaboration. The government is not diverting from the plans already formulated two years ago.

In November 2018 the German national and state governments decided on a nationwide policy for research infrastructures. For the tier 2 supercomputers in the country - one level below the three Gauss centres - the decision was to allocate 62,5 million euro per year:

Forschungsbauten, Großgeräte und Nationales Hochleistungsrechnen an Hochschulen .

In HPC technology, the German Government sees that funded projects already look at computer architecture, software development and operation of systems. In addition, and in collaboration with the states Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern and Nordrhein-Westfalen that house the three Gauss centres, the German Government will continue to support those fields. This is also the case for micro-electronics, for clusters and the development of energy efficient processor architectures which are considered equally important.

All processors in the supercomputers from the TOP500 list come from US manufacturers. So, Germany and Europe are completely dependent on non-European Union manufacturers. To correct this situation, the European Commission proposes the European Processor Initiative (EPI) to develop a European HPC processor. The German Government sees that there is a growing number of companies that offer HPC systems. Unlike in the processor area, no specific action is required there.

The German Government considers EuroHPC as a positive development. Germany was among the 7 countries that first signed the EuroHPC declaration in March 2017, and is a also founding member of the EuroHPC JU in which Germany will actively participate in the coming years. Germany will actively support participation of its researchers and industrial representatives in EuroHPC by co-financing the EuroHPC work programme for the German participants that are successful in this international competition for HPC projects. EuroHPC's focus is on creating a European HPC ecosystem.

The current goal of the EuroHPC JU is not to acquire exascale systems but to acquire pre-exascale and petascale supercomputers. Exascale systems are foreseen for and will be decided in the next funding period 2010-2027. If it will come to a request for exascale systems, the German Government considers Germany to be a very attractive candidate for such a supercomputer. The Gauss Center for Supercomputing e. V. already has many international cooperations, for instance.

How much money the German Government will make available for EuroHPC JU will depend on the success of the German participants in EuroHPC project calls. Germany will provide co-financing to the central EuroHPC funds provided by the European Union. The German government does not have the intention to participate in the pre-exascale or petascale hardware calls. They will only contribute to the Research and Innovation actions. The government sees here the most added value in the process of developing exascale systems to be located in Germany.

More information is available at the German Bundestag website.

Ad Emmen