University of Maribor and XENYA signed contract for an HPC system as part of the national research infrastructure project HPC - RIVR, readying Slovenia for EuroHPC participation
Peter Reinhardt, Technical director XENYA d.o.o., prof. dr. Zdravko Kacic, Rector University of Maribor, dr. Izidor Golob, head of RCUM.
22 Mar 2019 Maribor - The University of Maribor and XENYA signed a contract for the supply of an HPC system for the project "Upgrading National Research Infrastructures HPC - RIVR". The coordinator of this project is the University of Maribor, with two consortium partners: the Institute of Information Sciences (IZUM) and the Faculty of Information Studies in Novo Mesto (FIS). The entire project is worth 20 million euro. The duration of the project is from 1 March 2018 to 15 September 2020. It is a substantial upgrade of existing HPC capacities at the national Slovenian level, based on its own hardware and software architecture design.
For the University of Maribor, the acquisition will ensure the establishment of an open research infrastructure and environment for carrying out research. It will also promote research activities and transfer of results to the economy on the basis of Open Research Data. It will strengthen the link between the academia and industry, while at the same time strengthening the research potential of knowledge institutions and development-oriented economic operators through the exploitation of the capabilities of the national HPC RIVR. It will also enable the transfer of knowledge and good practices of HPC that will have an impact on innovative research and development activities, the creation of new knowledge and its use in research projects in the form of dedicated training, workshops and professional meetings.
"Today's signing of the contract represents a groundbreaking achievement for both the University of Maribor and the Eastern Region and Maribor, as it will contribute to the development of numerous research projects in many scientific fields. But it will also be a significant contribution to the development of the economy", stated prof. dr. Zdravko Kacic, rector of the University of Maribor, at the signing ceremony.
The Computer Centre of the University of Maribor (RCUM) serves about 1700 university employees, hundreds of external associates and more than 20.000 students. RCUM has recruited two development engineers for the needs of the HPC system and users, and a call for the third one has just been announced.
The project "Upgrading national research infrastructures - HPC RIVR" - High Perfromacne Computing for "Raziskovalna Infrastruktura Vzhodna Regija" is intended to establish a national supercomputer centre in Slovenia with the main goal of strengthening national high performance computing (HPC) capacities for the needs of the Slovenian research, innovation and economy. The project is financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund (80%) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (20%) under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of the European Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. The implementation of the project will significantly contribute to the fulfillment of the goals of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking Declaration of Cooperation, which Slovenia, as a signatory state, committed itself to establishing an integrated and accessible high-performance computing infrastructure.
The HPC RIVR project
The general objectives of the HPC RIVR project are:
- the essential upgrade of existing HPC capacities at the national level by the establishment of an HPC RIVR supercomputer node in Maribor with a capacity of at least 1 Petaflop/s, which will enable Slovenian researchers to access HPC's research infrastructure comparable to the infrastructures of other European countries;
- the establishment of a national network of strategic HPC partners in S4 areas through open access to the HPC RIVR infrastructure in accordance with the Guidelines on FAIR Data Management and Horizon 2020;
- the establishment of a national data warehouse of at least 21,6 PByte for the needs of the Slovenian research and innovation and economic space on the principle of open research data in accordance with the National Strategy for Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Slovenia 2015-2020;
- creating the conditions for faster and more efficient integration into the relevant international ESFRI infrastructure, since the establishment of a national HPC RIVR node and the development of HPC competencies by both consortium partners, SLING partners and other users will contribute to their equal participation in the international arena;
- establishing the conditions for effective cooperation within EuroHPC for the creation and development of a European integrated exascale of supercomputer infrastructure, as the capabilities of the newly established national HPC RIVR node and the acquired HPC competences will enable Slovenia to participate equally in the pan-European development of exascale supercomputer infrastructure.
In addition to these general objectives of the operation, the specific objectives of the HPC RIVR project are:
- the creation of an open-access research infrastructure and the environment for carrying out independent research in the context of effective cooperation with the economy in the general interest and for the needs of the economy as a whole;
- to encourage research activities and their transfer to the economy through effective cooperation, with the results of cooperation widely, extensively and disproportionately disseminated on the basis of open research data (Open Research Data);
- strengthening the links between the academia and economy areas, and at the same time strengthening the research potential of knowledge institutions and development-oriented economic operators through the exploitation of the capabilities of the national HPC RIVR;
- transfer of know-how and good practices of HPC in Slovenia and abroad that will have an impact on innovative research and development activities, the creation of new knowledge and its use in research projects in the form of dedicated education, workshops and professional meetings.
Within the framework of the HPC RIVR project, new areas of research and development of new services will be especially supported in areas that significantly affect the global trends in the field of supercomputing, especially:
- upgrading the computing capacities of the existing HPC research infrastructure with its own hardware and software architecture design that will be available for research and development work in accordance with the principle of open research infrastructure and the development of knowledge, resources and personnel directly linked to the object and objectives of the project;
- establishing an effective hardware and service infrastructure for open research data (with their own original access to research data);
- establishing a Hybrid Infrastructure Support centre where software can be installed and integrated into virtualized container or independent packet-based business enabling integration of systems with other forms and technologies such as on-demand services and Cloud infrastructures, e.g. Slovenian developmental Cloud, infrastructural systems such as Kubernetes, as well as the use of the same systems in the home environment by individual researchers, institutions and economic operators; this approach is very important because it enables the encapsulation of the entire data processing chain, so that, for example, sensor networks and other Internet-Technologies technologies (IoTs) are much more easily used by computing infrastructure as part of a back-up system for processing and analyzing data and storing results;
- integration with high throughput computing (HTC) and local repositories, which will enable research, development and application in the most technologically-growing areas requiring a combination of supercomputing, wholesale, diffused network computing and open scientific repositories;
- support for state-of-the-art methods in the field of life sciences and genomics with adequate support for protection and permanent data retention in the context of medical research and diagnostics is crucial for promoting very successful activities in the field of modelling of cellular processes such as aging, degenerative diseases, Alzheimer's disease, processes of metastasis of cancerous forms with early stages of drug development and diagnostics and the development of targeted personalized medicine therapies; the same methods will be strongly stimulated by existing research in fields such as of zoology, ecology, treatment of medical images, the development of new methods of diagnostics in medicine;
- development and research in the field of machine learning, artificial intelligence of language technologies, image recognition, deep learning, advanced machine modelling and analytics, and data mining with velocity in the context of the Slovenian research area and growing industrial initiatives, because in Slovenia there is a strong tradition in this field. Currently a lot of results are delivered in the field of industrial cooperation, new enterprises and successful research and project work, with the lack of infrastructure support with state-of-the-art architectures as an important obstacle to development; with the envisaged involvement of field laboratories, which will be integrated through the Slovenian infrastructure and the HPC RIVR systems through their own infrastructure, one expects the development of lasting cooperation with relevant research and development groups according to the model of cooperation between the IJS and the European Space Agency;
- in the field of data protection, secure transaction systems and block chains, low-level communication in the context of stock market operations and market modeling, financial analysis and modelling, the development of anonymisation systems and encrypted secure data retention, the infrastructure will enable experimental layouts, the use of broadband, and close cooperation between research organisations and industry in sharing a top-notch environment, which, according to the architecture, will be similar to the predicted solutions in the next generation of large European supercomputers, which, among other things, address these issues.
As part of the HPC RIVR operation, the consortium partners will develop and upgrade HPC skills and competences through mutual exchange of knowledge and experience, dedicated training of employees and actual work on the HPC RIVR hardware and software project in its own design. Likewise, HPC skills and competences will be further enhanced by the users of the HPC RIVR infrastructure for research and development purposes, especially from the economy.
The actual continuous availability of the HPC RIVR infrastructure will eventually lead to the ever-increasing use of this infrastructure for the implementation of a number of study and actual scientific research and development projects and tasks, which will enable the users to acquire knowledge and competences in the field of HPC both formally through education, and informally through acquired experience in actual work using the HPC RIVR infrastructure.
Unlike the classic HPC centres, which are primarily designed for intensive computing, HPC RIVR will also enable the processing of large amounts of data and rapid exchange with other computing centres, as well as computing on modern GPU units. The central supercomputer system HPC RIVR calculation capacity of at least 1 Petaflop/s will be placed in the IZUM premises. At the University of Maribor, a prototype HPC RIVR system with a calculation capacity of at least 220 Teraflop/s will be set up for development activities and testing of system and software solutions. The HPC RIVR system at IZUM will ensure the ever-available capacity for computing, processing and storing data for all users, while the HPC RIVR system at the University of Maribor will allow arbitrary reconfiguration and testing options for a variety of HPC solutions without compromising the stability of the basic HPC RIVR at IZUM. Proven better and stable solutions will be periodically transferred between systems that will be connected to a powerful high-throughput network equipment (at least 100 Gbps).
The HPC RIVR background info is based on a summary prepared by prof. dr. Zoran Ren, Vice-rector for scientific research at the University of Maribor, project leader of HPC RIVR.