GENCI and CNRS choose Eviden

Plan to make the Jean Zay supercomputer one of the most powerful in France.

  • Friday, 29th March 2024 Posted 2 weeks ago in by Phil Alsop

Following the announcement made by the French President at the Vivatech conference in June 2023, the Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif (GENCI) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), under the aegis of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, have selected Eviden to provide a major extension to the capacity of the Jean Zay supercomputer, funded by the France 2030 Programme. This announcement marks a new step towards sovereign AI.

After a competitive dialogue phase, GENCI and CNRS have selected Eviden to supply a new, NVIDIA-powered computing infrastructure for the French national supercomputing centers. After preliminary works of compute room adaptation, the NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPU-based partition of Jean Zay, GENCI's supercomputer operated by the CNRS's Institut de développement et de ressources en informatique scientifique (IDRIS), will be installed by Eviden in April and will be fully available to users in early summer 2024.

This extension to the Jean Zay computer will allow an increase in the peak computing power from 36.85 to 125.9 PFlop/s. In so doing, available computing capacity will be multiplied by 3.5 in double precision (for high-performance computing) and by 13 if reduced or mixed precision is used, as in the case of artificial intelligence. Also, a new storage infrastructure will make it possible to read/write at high speed and make the associated models and datasets available.

In addition to its level of performance, Jean Zay is one of the most eco-efficient machines in Europe, thanks to the massive use of accelerated technologies (GPUs) and core warm water cooling of the computing servers. The machine's waste heat is also re-used to help heat more than 1,000 homes on the Saclay area, thanks to a joint investment by CNRS and EPAPS[1].

The acquisition of this extension, carried out with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty) and the General Secretariat for Investment, in charge of France 2030, has benefited from funding from France 2030. IDRIS will operate a computing machine of exceptional power and functionality, open to national academic and industrial research communities. They will be able to carry out numerical simulations using high-performance computing, and train or specialize so-called "foundation" or "generative" artificial intelligence models, whether in the field of language processing, vision, multimodality, explainable AI, or in biology, health, materials, new energies and low-carbon mobility, fundamental physics, climate/weather, etc.

This new evolution is in line with the announcement made by French President Emmanuel Macron on 14 June at the Vivatech 2023 conference, to support the development of sovereign artificial intelligence, in particular generative AI. To this end, GENCI has been awarded €40m. This exceptional grant also includes an additional €10m to strengthen and extend the human resources of the French National Artificial Intelligence Research Programme (PNRIA) and to support AI communities. The goal is to guarantee the long-term quality of the service provided by the CNRS network of AI support engineers, which helps AI communities to carry out their projects at Jean Zay.

This new availability of computing resources available to scientific communities will help to boost the capabilities of the French AI sector in the face of international competition. 

The new collaboration will focus on alignment around joint customers’ cloud journeys and acceleration of journey operationalizing cloud investment.
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