Scientific Case for the European HPC infrastructure, Update 2012 & PRACE User Forum

March 14 -15, 2012, in Dublin: Panels Workshop and User Forum Meeting

In 2005 and 2006, an international panel produced the Scientific Case for a European Super Computing Infrastructure that demonstrated the need of a European HPC infrastructure. The document was published by the HPC in Europe Taskforce in January 2007. The initiative was instrumental to the establishment of the PRACE Research Infrastructure in April 2010.
Five years after the publication of the scientific case, the HPC landscape in Europe has changed significantly. The PRACE Research Infrastructure is providing Tier-0 HPC services to Europe, a global effort has been launched towards achieving Exascale HPC by the end of this decade, and the importance of HPC in solving the socio-economic challenges and maintaining Europe’s competitiveness has become even more evident. Therefore, PRACE started an initiative to create an update of the Scientific Case to define the current and expected future needs of the scientific communities. It involves the PRACE Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) and is funded through the PRACE-1IP project.

Main objectives:

  1. Identify the scientific areas for which PRACE is an important Research Infrastructure and the key challenges within these areas, highlighting the crucial role that large scale computer simulation is playing in many areas of science;
  2. Identify the potential outcomes in science and engineering to be addressed through PRACE Petascale resources;
  3. Describe the potential impact of computer simulations on science as well as on the economy and society in general;
  4. Identify a roadmap of expected achievements in the next 5-8 years.

The PRACE SSC, the PRACE User Forum Programme Committee, and the Board of Directors agreed on the following scope for the updated Scientific Case. It should:

  • cover the period 2012 – 2020;
  • include the same panels and scientific areas as the original one, extending the life science panel by medicine;
  • put more emphasis on socioeconomic challenges, business, and innovation than the original Scientific Case;
  • leverage the results from the European Exascale Software Initiative (EESI);
  • report on the status of implementation of the recommendations of the original Scientific Case, in particular through the establishment of the PRACE Research Infrastructure;
  • provide strategic input to the European Commission, the National funding agencies, decision makers, the science communities and the PRACE Research Infrastructure.

The process is guided by a Managing Group composed by:

- Maria Ramalho (Chairman, Board of Directors)
- Richard Kenway (Chairman, Scientific Steering Committee)
- Thomas Lippert (Chairman, PRACE 1IP)
- Turlough Downes (Chairman, User Forum Programme Committee)

Supported by the PRACE-1IP project, the Managing Group steers the overall process. It has proposed the chairs of the five panels and the lead editor of the update. All contributors to the original Scientific Case and to the four scientific working groups of EESI have been invited to participate in the panels.
Professor Martyn Guest, Cardiff University, UK, is the lead editor of the update.
The five panels and their chairs are:

  • Weather, Climatology & Earth Sciences: Chair Giovanni Aloisio, University of Salento and ENES-CMCC ,Italy;
  • Astrophysics, HEP & Plasma Physics: Chair Andreas Schäfer, University of Regensburg, Germany;
  • Materials Science, Chemistry & Nanoscience: Chair Stefan Blügel, Research Centre Jülich, Germany;
  • Life Sciences & Medicine: Chair Modesto Orozco, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Spain;
  • Engineering & Industry: Chair Philippe Ricoux, TOTAL, France.

Furthermore, representatives from each PRACE Partner have been appointed as national contact points to disseminate the activity and identify scientists in their country that could also contribute to the process.

We consider it essential that the updated Scientific Case has broad support from the Scientific Community. Therefore, the PRACE partners have spread the information widely and encourage participation in the preparation of the document itself. The writing process will be organized in an open fashion, publishing also intermediate results and asking for comments from the community.

Important dates:

- March 14, 2012 and March 15, 2012, in Dublin: Workshop for all the panels
- April 15, 2012: First draft made publicly available;
- June 1st, 2012: Final version approved.