Seven years after the publication of the last strategic plan, developed as part of the discussions conducted by the GENCI Associates, the GENCI Strategic Plan unveils the next major orientations of the Very Large Computing Research Infrastructure for the years to come. It highlights several issues at the heart of GENCI's concerns, notably the convergence of HPC with artificial intelligence and, more generally, aims to put the acquisition of an exascale machine at the centre within the framework of the European dynamic driven by the new EuroHPC structure. Responding to the needs of the scientific communities and researchers is the number one priority of GENCI, with the aim of guaranteeing the scientific and economic competitiveness of France at a global level.

The field of HPC is indeed in strong evolution, with major technological advances, evolutions of the ecosystem and new European initiatives in which the very large research infrastructure (TGIR) GENCI is strongly involved. This 2019-2023 strategic plan is part of the activities and missions defined in the GENCI statutes of June 2016, and in line with the orientations of the national strategy for research infrastructures and reflections, conducted at the European level in the frameworks of PRACE, EXDCI and EuroHPC, as well as internal reflections conducted by the GENCI Associates.

It necessarily reflects the response given to issues perceived at a particular time and is a guide to strategic directions that can be adapted to take into account an evolving context. This strategic plan is of course intended to take into account the conclusions that will emerge from the various works in progress, notably those of the ESRI or Allistene Alliance's Computing Requirements Committee. For these reasons, it remains voluntarily as open as possible to facilitate future adaptations to very changing contexts.

This strategic plan is structured in two major parts: issues on the one hand and strategic orientations on the other. An appendix contains the balance sheet of the actions planned in the strategic plan 2012-2016, completed by those, initially not planned and nevertheless undertaken, to stay in phase with the main missions of GENCI in a changing context. This analysis has, of course, guided part of this reflection.

 

Since its creation in 2007 by the Public authorities, GENCI is working to increase the use of numerical simulation and high performance computing (HPC) for boosting competitiveness within the French economy, across all scientific and industrial fields.

GENCI’s role is to implement the national strategy for equiping in HPC resources the three national computing centres (TGCC CEA, CNRS Idris, CINES CPU) and making the systems available for French researchers; to support the creation of an integrated European high performance computing ecosystem (Within PRACE and EuroHPC); to work to promote numerical simulation and high performance computing within the academic and industrial communities.

GENCI is a “civil company” (société civile) under the French law, and 49% owned by the State, represented by the ministère en charge de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, 20% by the CEA, 20% by the CNRS, 10% by the Universities, which are represented by the Conférence des présidents d’Université, and 1% by Inria.GENCI has an annual budget of €39 million.

Its strategic plan focuses on the main goals for HPC in France in the next 5 years. The strategic plan also includes an evaluation of the previous five-year plan. The Strategic Plan 2019-2023 defines a number of strategic objectives. 

  • The concrete plan to position France as hosting country for an EuroHPC exascale system by 2022/2023.
  • For supercomputing in France, the goals of GENCI envision the convergence of HPC, Big Data and AI, as an important development. New supercomputers should be acquired with scientific performance, energy costs and total costs of ownership as main criteria.
  • GENCI wants to encourage the current three French supercomputer centres to collaborate more closely. Keeping technological sovereignty is deemed of great importance by GENCI.

On a European scale, the Strategic Plan 2019-2023 focuses on EuroHPC or more specific on the exascale systems of EuroHPC. It is very important that Europe has exascale machines of its own. GENCI outlines a plan to bring one of the first two exascale systems in Europe to France. GENCI will be investing in activities to make this exascale system a reality. This includes preparing a Hosting Consortium and to prepare to apply as Hosting Entity. One of the French supercomputer centres will be selected as "Hosting Site".

GENCI will continue to support the French presence in the European HPC and AI ecosystem and coordination with the French programmes.