PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe, www.prace-project.eu), on which the European Commission has allocated € 70 million for the period 2008-2014, has the mission to enable scientific and engineering excellence which requires innovative supercomputing, in order to improve European competitiveness for the benefit of the whole society. The Interuniversity Consortium CINECA, of which OGS is part, is one of the founding members of PRACE and one of the 4 Hosting Members committed to providing HPC-class Tier-0 (HPC systems at European level). PRACE fulfils its mission by providing European researchers with resources and services supercomputing and worldwide data management.
The concept of "Exascale computing" refers to computational systems capable of achieving performance of calculus of at least 1 exaflops (1018 operations per second), increasing to 1,000 times the current capacity. This increase in performance, as well as significantly reducing the relative consumption of energy, presents unique challenges in both hardware and software: the magnitude of these challenges is so high that only international cooperation in scientific research is able to deal with them in an appropriate manner, also directing the technological progress. At international level, there are many recent examples of government investment that financed the exascale computing for research in various scientific fields, from basic theoretical research, earth sciences, biology, materials science, in the field of energy and national security.
The European Union funded projects PRACE, CRESTA, DEEP and Mont-Blanc and in February 2012 announced the launch of a strategic plan to ensure European leadership in HPC (High Performance Computing).
The mission of PRACE is expressed in providing supercomputing resources for European research excellence, resources that researchers have free of charge access, through a mechanism of open and transparent European peer-review, intended to ensure the use of resources on the basis of scientific merit and to promote scientific excellence in a context of global competitiveness. Since August 2010, 7 calls for research projects were activated requiring access to computing resources PRACE - five Tier-0 (HPC systems at European level) and two for Tier-1 resources (HPC systems of national interest) - to be allocated for research projects.
In addition to computing resources, PRACE provides the most advanced professional skills in Europe for the efficient use of computing resources. These skills include user support as well as pan-European education and training initiatives for scientists and engineers of the next generation. PRACE also encourages collaboration between industry and research, and organises annual specific seminars in different places around Europe. Another goal of PRACE is to strengthen the European industry that develops and provides resources to high-performance computing through various initiatives, maintaining a strong interest in both improving the energy efficiency of computer systems and reducing their environmental impact.
Since the technology used in research infrastructure is evolving, PRACE adopts initiatives in both software and hardware so that the computing resources involved in high-performance systems are always at the forefront. It also provides programs of adequate education and vocational training so that user communities can adapt to changing technology.
For more details see www.prace-project.eu
Contact person: dr. Stefano Salon