Helios, which is designed and operated by Bull, supports research work aimed at controlling nuclear fusion, so as to refine a sustainable energy source that produces no carbon dioxide emissions or other greenhouse gasses. The system provides modelling and simulation capacity which is open to all European and Japanese researchers under the 'Broader Approach', a research programme that complements the international co-operative ITER programme.
The new Intel Xeon PHI coprocessors that will be incorporated into Helios will enable researchers to take advantage of exceptional computing performance. Their massively parallel architecture delivering leading performance per watt, foreshadows technologies that will ultimately lead to exascale computing.
"We are delighted to be helping the CEA and the community working on Nuclear Fusion to develop the knowhow and computing resources that will allow them to significantly expand the potential for research associated with the ITER programme", stated Pascal Barbolosi, Vice-President, Extreme Computing at Bull.
"Computer simulation plays an essential role in the development of research into Nuclear Fusion - both in terms of understanding the extremely complex physical phenomena involved and in scoping future tokamaks. The Nuclear Fusion community already has very advanced parallel simulation software. Adapting these for processors with an extremely high levels of parallelization is essential to guarantee their ability to fully utilize future generations of supercomputers, and the integration of Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors into Helios is an important move in this direction", explained Gabriele Fioni, Director of Materials Sciences at the CEA.
The architecture of the Helios supercomputer initially featured 4,410 bullx B510 compute nodes, with 8,820 Intel Xeon E5 processors producing a power of 1.5 Petaflops. The 180 new bullx B515 compute nodes will each include two Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors delivering an additional 400 Teraflops, taking the total power of the Helios system to almost 2 Petaflops.
"Intel is convinced that Exascale computing will represent a major technological advance for the scientific community working on Nuclear Fusion projects. The Intel Xeon Phi range of coprocessors has been designed with this in mind, and we are very pleased that the Helios supercomputer will be benefiting from this", explained Stéphane Negre, CEO of Intel France and Regional Manager of Intel Western Europe.
The Center of Expertise for Parallel Programming - created by Bull in close co-operation with Intel and based at Bull's offices in Grenoble, France - is closely involved in this project, providing training, porting and optimization of computing codes dedicated to this vital area of energy research.