Europe keeps strengthening the superhighway
The European High Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure is growing. The consortium of the Distributed European Infrastructure for Supercomputing Applications (DEISA) is striving for an integrated HPC network. This will offer researchers the opportunity to communicate with each other to create 'virtual science communities' a sort of online campus .The European Commission is financing the project DEISA 2 until 2011 with EUR 12.2 million.
In today's competitive environment, supercomputing and an HPC environment are absolutely essential to business survival, and are also of great importance to academic institutions. This is why the DEISA consortium was initially funded in May 2004. The 11-member consortium is seeking to deliver a turnkey operational solution for an integrated European HPC ecosystem by the end of 2010. DEISA is enabling scientific researchers to access a European cluster of high-tech HPC resources reinforcing applications in computational sciences.
A number of European research networks are already utilising and benefiting from this technology. Among them are projects like SEISSOL which researches earthquake simulations and COMSIMM which looks at current and future climate trends. These projects are able to harness the combined processing power of DEISA’s supercomputing infrastructure.
Besides providing a computational platform for the activities, DEISA2 will also provide integration via distributed services and web applications, and manage data repositories. The activities reinforce links to other European HPC centres, as well as leading HPC centres and HPC projects worldwide. DEISA2 is also participating in the evaluation and implementation of standards for interoperation to support international science communities across existing political boundaries.
Back in its nascent stages, the project's main objective was to enable scientific discovery across a broad spectrum of science and technology, through the deployment and operation of a world-class, persistent, production quality, distributed supercomputing environment. In 2006, DEISA was joined by three leading centres. Thanks to their joint efforts, DEISA reached production quality soon after and was able to support cutting-edge capability computing for the European scientific community.
DEISA has also contributed to raising awareness of the need for a persistent European HPC infrastructure as recommended in the ESFRI Report 2006. The report highlights the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap, which identifies new research infrastructures of pan-European interest corresponding to the long-term needs of the European research communities, irrespective of their locations.
So far, scientists from 15 different European countries with collaborators from 4 other continents have benefited.
The DEISA supercomputing infrastructure consists of two layers. At the innermost layer, similar computing platforms (i.e. same architecture and operating system) are glued together to create a 'distributed virtual supercomputer'. The resulting platform is a super cluster of computing nodes located in a few places in different countries, but which appears to end users as a single unified system.
The second stage focuses on cooperation with the PRACE project, which is preparing for the installation of a limited number of leadership-class Tier-0 supercomputers in Europe. The ecosystem will inte¬grate national Tier-1 centres and the new Tier-0 centres.
In addition to the 11 DEISA members from Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK; partners from Switzerland, Sweden and Russia have also joined the DEISA2 project as associated partners.