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How does one cover the needs of both HPC (high performance computing) and HPDA (high performance data analytics) applications? Which hardware and software technologies are needed? How should these technologies be combined so that very different kinds of applications are able to efficiently exploit them? And how can we – on the way – tackle some of the challenges posed by next-gen supercomputers of the Exascale class, like energy efficiency? These are the questions the EU-funded project DEEP-EST addresses with it’s Modular Supercomputing architecture.

Towards a modular supercomputing architecture

Creating a modular supercomputer that best fits the requirements of the diverse, increasingly complex, and newly emerging applications is the aim of DEEP-EST, an EU project launched on July 1, 2017. The third member of the DEEP Projects family builds upon the results of its predecessors DEEP and DEEP-ER, which ran from December 2011 to March 2017. An aim uniting all three projects from the beginning: We are developing a new breed of flexible, heterogeneous HPS systems supporting a broad portfolio of HPC and HPDA applications with highest efficiency and scalability.
The innovative Modular Supercomputer Architecture creates a unique HPC system by coupling various compute modules according to the building-block principle. Each module is tailored to the needs of a specific group of applications, and all modules together behave as a single machine. This is guaranteed by connecting them through a high-speed network and, most importantly, operating them with a uniform system software and programming environment. In this way, one application can be distributed over several modules, running each part of its code onto the best suited hardware.
Hence, from the beginning DEEP projects have followed a holistic approach: We not only develop hardware prototypes but also build the matching software stack. And most important, the whole R&D process is driven by real-world HPC and HPDA applications involved in the projects from the beginning. They drive the co-design processes and will evaluate both HW and SW technologies developed towards the end of the projects.


The basis for the MSA: The Cluster-Booster Concept

The MSA developed in DEEP-EST builds on the so-called Cluster-Booster architecture. It was first conceptualized and proven with prototypes in the DEEP project. It is a combination of a standard HPC Cluster and a tightly connected HPC Booster built of many- core processors or accelerators.
The second project DEEP-ER evolved this architecture to address two significant Exascale computing challenges: highly scalable and efficient parallel I/O and system resiliency. Co-Design was the key to tackle these challenges – through thoroughly integrated development of new hardware and software components, fine-tuned with actual HPC applications in mind.
Learn more about the hardware developments
Details on the software environment