HIEPACS Research team

Activity reports

Introduction

Over the last few decades, there have been innumerable science, engineering and societal breakthroughs enabled by the development of high performance computing (HPC) applications, algorithms and architectures. These powerful tools have provided researchers with the ability to computationally find efficient solutions for some of the most challenging scientific questions and problems in medicine and biology, climatology, nanotechnology, energy and environment. It is admitted today that numerical simulation is the third pillar for the development of scientific discovery at the same level as theory and experimentation. Numerous reports and papers also confirmed that very high performance simulation will open new opportunities not only for research but also for a large spectrum of industrial sectors (see for example the documents available on the web link http://science.energy.gov/ascr/news-and-resources/program-documents/).

An important force which has continued to drive HPC has been to focus on frontier milestones which consist in technical goals that symbolize the next stage of progress in the field. In the 1990s, the HPC community sought to achieve computing at a teraflop rate and currently we are able to compute on the first leading architectures at a petaflop rate. Generalist petaflop supercomputers are available and exaflop computers are foreseen in early 2020.

For application codes to sustain petaflops and more in the next few years, hundreds of thousands of processor cores or more will be needed, regardless of processor technology. Currently, a few HPC simulation codes easily scale to this regime and major code development efforts are critical to achieve the potential of these new systems. Scaling to a petaflop and more will involve improving physical models, mathematical modeling, super scalable algorithms that will require paying particular attention to acquisition, management and visualization of huge amounts of scientific data.

In this context, the purpose of the HiePACS project is to contribute performing efficiently frontier simulations arising from challenging research and industrial that are likely to be multiscale and coupled applications. The solution of these challenging problems require a multidisciplinary approach involving applied mathematics, computational and computer sciences. In applied mathematics, it essentially involves advanced numerical schemes. In computational science, it involves massively parallel computing and the design of highly scalable algorithms and codes to be executed on emerging hierarchical many-core platforms. Through this approach, HiePACS intends to contribute to all steps that go from the design of new high-performance more scalable, robust and more accurate numerical schemes to the optimized implementations of the associated algorithms and codes on very high performance supercomputers. This research will be conduced on close collaboration in particular with European and US initiatives or projects such as PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) EESI-2 (European Exascale Software Initiative 2) and likely in the framework of H2020 European collaborative projects.

The methodological part of HiePACS covers several topics. First, we address generic studies concerning massively parallel computing, the design of high-end performance algorithms and software to be executed on future extreme scale platforms. Next, several research prospectives in scalable parallel linear algebra techniques are addressed, ranging from dense direct, sparse direct, iterative and hybrid approaches for large linear systems. Then we consider research plans for N-body interaction computations based on efficient parallel fast multipole methods and finally, we adress research tracks related to the algorithmic challenges for complex code couplings in multiscale simulations.

Currently, we have one major multiscale application that is in material physics. We contribute to all steps of the design of the parallel simulation tool. More precisely, our applied mathematics skill will contribute to the modeling and our advanced numerical schemes will help in the design and efficient software implementation for very large parallel multiscale simulations. Moreover, the robustness and efficiency of our algorithmic research in linear algebra are validated through industrial and academic collaborations with different partners involved in various application fields. Finally, we are also involved in a few collaborative intiatives in various application domains in a co-design like framework. These reserach activities are conducted is a wider multi-disciplinary context with collegues in other academic or industrial groups where our contribution is related to our expertises. Not only these collaborations enable our knowledges to have a stronger impact in various application domains through the promotion of advanced algorithms, methodologies or tools, but they also open new avenues for research in the continuity of our core research.

Thanks to the two Inria collaborative agreements such as with EADS-Astrium/Conseil Régional Aquitaine and with CEA, we have joint research efforts in a co-design framework enabling efficient and effective technological transfer towards industrial R&D.

Our high performance software packages are integrated in several academic or industrial complex codes and are validated on very large scale simulations. For all our software developments, we use first the various (very) large parallel platforms available through GENCI in France (CCRT, CINES and IDRIS Computational Centers), and next the high-end parallel platforms that will be available via European and US initiatives or projects such that PRACE.