The BSC-CNS will be home to one of the largest European supercomputers: MareNostrum 5

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MareNostrum 4, the predecessor of what will be one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, is installed in the Torre Girona chapel (Barcelona)

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Presentation of MareNostrum 5 on 10 June at the BSC-CNS with institutional representatives

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Left to right: Josep Maria Martorell, the associate director of the BSC-CNS; Mateo Valero, the director; and Sergi Girona, the Operations director.

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center–Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) will host one of the pre-exascale supercomputers in the high-performance computer network promoted by the European Commission, namely MareNostrum 5. It will be a heterogeneous supercomputer adapted to the new requirements of supercomputer users that will emphasise artificial intelligence and will have a peak performance of 200 petaflops

Jun 25, 2019

MareNostrum 5 will be operational in 2021 and will have a peak performance of 200 petaflops; this will give Barcelona a prominent position on the future map of supercomputing in Europe. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center–Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) has been selected by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) to host this machine, which is one of three pre-exascale supercomputers in the high-performance computer network promoted by the European Commission.

The European supercomputer MareNostrum 5 will incorporate an experimental platform focused on developing new technologies for the next generation of supercomputers. This means that, in addition to offering world-class supercomputing services for researchers all over Europe, the BSC-CNS is committed to using its research to help future generations of supercomputers include technologies that are entirely developed in Europe.

The implementation of such an experimental platform, the only one that the EuroHPC JU has decided to fund, was the main topic during the official event held on 10 June, which was attended by the director general of Communications Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission, Roberto Viola, who explained Euro-HPC’s road map for exascale computing. In this framework the BSC-CNS was selected as one of the three centres to have pre-exascale computers co-funded by the European Union in 2021. The Commission plans to acquire five petascale supercomputers (capable of executing at least 4 petaflops).

I am proud to announce that, today, we have been able to keep our promise of working together with the countries that make up the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking and jointly deploy high-level supercomputing and data infrastructure in the European Union”, said Roberto Viola. “These high-performance systems will provide Europe with the high-performance computing capabilities that it needs to keep up with its global competitors. They will help scientists undertake research projects of great relevance to our society in fields as varied as climate change, personalised medicine, brain function and cosmology. At the same time, they will help accelerate innovation in areas crucial for our economic competitiveness, such as manufacturing, engineering and the design of new materials and new medicines”, stressed Viola.

The director of the BSC-CNS, Mateo Valero, who is a professor and researcher from the Department of Computer Architecture at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the scientific coordinator for developing the first accelerator (GPU), explained that the initiative to incorporate an experimental platform in MareNostrum 5 stems from the conviction that, “for security and sovereignty reasons, Europe cannot remain so highly dependent on computing technologies from other continents”.

At the BSC-CNS, we are firmly convinced that developing our own technology should be a priority for European researchers in computer science and we welcome the fact that the European Commission has also committed to this need in recent years”, added Valero. The director of the BSC-CNS stated that “the major challenges of our society—such as studying climate change and developing new energies, like fusion—require exascale computers, which are much more powerful than those that we have now, with features that meet the new needs of researchers and a proportionally lower energy consumption than that of existing computers, which means that we need to keep researching”.

Meeting new needs
MareNostrum 5 stands out because it will be a heterogeneous supercomputer. Today, supercomputing is used in increasingly diverse disciplines and activities, which means supercomputers have to face tasks that imply increasingly diverse computing needs too. For instance, some tasks require large amounts of computing capacity, others need more real-time data analysis capabilities and others need both, like those related to personalised medicine or simulating energy generation processes.

The BSC-CNS proposes a heterogeneous architecture, probably with two large clusters with different features, for optimising response times and power consumption in the different tasks that the supercomputer will have to perform. The details of this heterogeneous architecture will be outlined as infrastructure-defining and tendering processes advance.

Setting up the consortium that will fund MareNostrum 5
MareNostrum 5 will cost 223 million euros, which is the budget allocated to procurement, installation and operational maintenance over five years. Fifty percent of this budget will be funded by the European Union and the other 50% by the countries that will make up the support consortium for the proposal.

To draft its bid to host one of the largest European pre-exascale supercomputers, from the outset the BSC-CNS received political and financial support from the Spanish and Portuguese governments, which were subsequently joined by the Turkish and Croatian governments.

Ireland gave its political support to the proposal and is considering joining the consortium led by the BSC-CNS, which may incorporate additional countries up to the date on which it is set up, which is scheduled at the end of July. The BSC-CNS trustees (the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Catalan Ministry Department of Business and Knowledge and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) have also supported the proposal from day one.

A change of scale
In addition to placing the BSC-CNS on the European supercomputing map that has just been created, MareNostrum 5 will be a jump in scale for the research centre’s current infrastructure, which is linked to the UPC. MareNostrum 5 will have a peak performance of 200 petaflops, which is 17 times higher than that of the centre’s current supercomputer, MareNostrum 4, and 10,000 times higher than the performance of MareNostrum 1, the supercomputer that began the saga in 2004.

The new machine will be much larger in size too, so it will be physically distributed between the Torre Girona chapel—the headquarters of MareNostrum 4—and the lower floors of the BSC-CNS’s new corporate building, just a few meters away from the chapel.

About the BSC-CNS
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center–Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) is the leading supercomputing centre in Spain. It specialises in high-performance computing (HPC) and has a dual purpose: to offer supercomputing infrastructure and services to Spanish and European scientists and to generate knowledge and technology so that they can be transferred to society.

It is a Severo Ochoa centre of excellence and a first-class member of the PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) and manages the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES).

The BSC-CNS is a public consortium composed of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (60%), the Catalan Ministry of Business and Knowledge (30%) and the UPC (10%).