The Joliot-Curie Grands Challenges 

World scientific first ever for critical societal challenges in

laser physics, biology and automotive.


Dallas, November 12 2018 – Taking the opportunity of its participation at SC18 in Dallas – the Supercomputing Conference (November 11-16, 2018) GENCI, (Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif), will present the early scientific results produced during the Grand Challenges on Joliot-Curie, its latest 9.4 petaflops supercomputer, hosted at the CEA’s TGCC (Très Grand Centre de Calcul). GENCI will present the results on the booth 711 (“French Computing” of the CNRS cc-IN2P3).

Joliot-Curie, an Atos BullSequana X1000 system, joined the TOP500* (of the world’s largest supercomputers) in June 2018, becoming the 3rd most powerful supercomputer in France and one of the few dedicated solely to open research in France and Europe.

*Top 500 Ranking, June 2018: Joliot-Curie was at the 34th position for the SKL partition and 151st for the KNL partition.

Before it goes in full production, a series of Grand Challenges – large scale simulations from academic and industry research – were carried out on Joliot-Curie, from June to September 2018, to check that the system is functioning properly. These Grand Challenges represent a unique opportunity for selected scientists to gain access to the full supercomputer's resources, enabling them to make major advances, or even achieve world firsts that would be impossible to achieve with shared use.

GENCI is pleased to make Joliot-Curie, the most innovative supercomputer in France, a 9,4 petaflop BullSequana X1000, available for French and European research. Thanks to the Grands Challenges on Joliot-Curie, major scientific breakthroughs will be made possible. GENCI is constantly working to ensure its primary mission, to provide French and European research, powerful numerical simulation resources and to position French research at the best global level. We are proud to enable researchers to obtain very high scientific quality results in future fields that will help finding solutions to critical societal challenges, such as health, physics or environment.” explains Philippe Lavocat, CEO of GENCI.

“Atos and GENCI share a long and successful relationship, and we’re delighted that their new BullSequana X1000 is being used by researchers and scientists to accelerate their research. GENCI’s choice demonstrates their confidence in Atos’s innovation and technological excellence to help tackle some of the key issues our society must face.” Philippe Vannier, EVP Big Data and Security Solutions & Group Advisor for Technology, Atos.


From among the ten or so projects selected and whilst the data for many of these projects are still being analyzed, some scientific teams are already in a position to reveal their initial results.


Laser physics – The world of high-power lasers was recently brought into the limelight with the awarding of the Nobel Prize to researchers Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou for their method for generating high-intensity ultrashort optical pulses (or CPA for Chirped Pulse Amplification). One of the leading research themes for the Apollon project is the acceleration of electrons using two pairs of gratings. A new laser description method known as the envelope method was developed by the CEA and Polytechnique research team. The work required 10 million core hours using the Smilei PIC code on up to 73 000 cores.

Laser CILEX-APOLLON – Simulation - acceleration of electrons using two pairs of gratings


Biology / Health – Insight into the behavior of molecules is needed in order to understand living organisms at the microscopic level. Moreover, cellular compartments have recently become an inspiration to the fields of biotechnology and biomedicine (such as new biological nanoreactors). The research team led by Fabio Sterpone, CNRS senior scientist at LBT (Laboratoire de Biochimie Théorique, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique), employed a novel computational approach to simulate the first detailed model of a biological nanoreactor using the MUPHY Multiphysics code coupling microscopic Molecular Dynamics (MD) with a hydro-kinetic Lattice Boltzmann (LB) method.

Enzymatic activity in crowded spaces


Automotive industry & the environment – One of the most promising options for reducing consumption and polluting emissions for internal combustion engines is the use of an homogeneous lean mix. A team of researchers, backed by Renault, was able to carry out, using the AVBP LES code, a first numerical simulation at CERFACS of an internal combustion engine fitted with a pre-combustion chamber, running on a lean mix.

Simulation - Design the future engines to reduce polluting emissions



At the end of the Grand Challenges period, the Joliot-Curie supercomputer has been made available to French as well as European researchers through the European research infrastructure PRACE (PartneRship for Advanced Computing in Europe), within which GENCI represents France. Researchers from academia and industry will thus have at their disposal 4.5 times the computing power compared to the previous Curie system, for all uses requiring very high computing and data processing power.

Joliot-Curie technical specifications

Installed at the TGCC (Très Grand Centre de Calcul du CEA) in Bruyères-Le-Châtel (Essonne), the initial configuration of this supercomputer offers computing power of 9,4 petaflops, or 9,4 million of billion operations per second (equivalent to more than 75,000 desktop PCs). An extension of Joliot-Curie is planned for 2019 to increase its computing capacity to more than 20 petaflops.

The computing nodes of this set of 9 Bull Sequana X1000 cells are partly equipped with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and partly with Intel® Xeon Phi™ manycore processors, for a total of more than 135 792 cores.

The Intel® Xeon® Scalable partition is equipped with a Mellanox InfiniBand EDR high-speed, low-latency interconnect network, while the Intel® Xeon Phi™ partition is based on a Bull BXI (Bull Exascale Interconnect) high-speed, low-latency interconnect network.

Peak computing power is around 9.4 petaflops (6.86 petaflops in x86_64 technology and 2.52 petaflops in Xeon Phi technology).

The distributed memory capacity is in the order of 400 TB.

The patented "Direct Liquid Cooling" technology allows the machine to be cooled with hot water, reducing energy consumption by up to 40% compared to air cooling.

The entire solution runs under the new Bull SCS 5 environment based on the Linux Red Hat 7.4 operating system.

The solution also includes a Lustre Cray ClusterStor storage cluster capable of delivering a throughput of over 300 GB/s for a minimum usable volume of 5 PB.





GENCI (Grand équipement national de calcul intensif) is a Very Large Research Infrastructure 49% owned by the State, represented by the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation-French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI), 20% by the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA), 20% by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), 10% by the French Universities, which are represented by the Conférence des Présidents d’Université (CPU) , and 1% by Inria. As the national operator in charge of the implementation of national investment policy in the field of high-performance computing and computational data storage, GENCI, was created in 2007 to support and implement French national HPC strategy.

GENCI Press contact: Séverine SAINT HUBERT / / Tel : 01 42 50 04 15


About Atos

Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with 120,000 employees in 73 countries and annual revenue of € 13 billion. European number one in Cloud, Cybersecurity and High-Performance Computing, the Group provides end-to-end Orchestrated Hybrid Cloud, Big Data, Business Applications and Digital Workplace solutions through its Digital Transformation Factory, as well as transactional services through Worldline, the European leader in the payment industry. With its cutting-edge technologies and industry knowledge, Atos supports the digital transformation of its clients across all business sectors. The Group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic & Paralympic Games and operates under the brands Atos, Atos Syntel, Unify and Worldline. Atos is listed on the CAC40 Paris stock index.

Atos Press contact:Laura Fau | | +33 6 73 64 04 18 | @laurajanefau