Enabling combined numerical simulation and large data analysis via high-performance computing has tremendously expanded the realm of the possible, and greatly accelerated research projects in many areas. Providing such scientific and economic competitiveness boosters is at the heart of the missions of GENCI and of the teams of CEA Très Grand Centre de Calcul (TGCC).

On the road to Exascale, the acquisition and the deployment of the AMD ROME Partition of the Joliot-Curie supercomputer, made available to researchers in 2021, marked a new stage in France’s commitment to digital sovereignty at both the French and the European level.

The investment to acquire this partition was made as part of the European PPI4HPC project (Horizon 2020 grant agreement No 754271). PPI4HPC made possible to purchase innovative computing and storage solutions, implementing a transnational Public Procurement for Innovative Solutions for the first time in the area of HPC in Europe. PPI4HPC performed a joint procurement project coordinated by GENCI, together with leading European HPC centres: CEA/GENCI (France), CINECA (Italy), JUELICH (Germany) and BSC (Spain). The European Commision made a significant contribution to the financing of this purchase.

A usual process when commissioning a new supercomputer, Grands Challenges benefitted from a dedicated use window during a three- and half-month ramp-up phase before the start of production of the new partition. Resources were offered to a limited number of users. These users were happy to access the whole configuration for performing large-scale and sometimes first-ever simulations, subject to conditions of use for a computer in the “final adaptation” phase.

Molecular dynamics, water droplet interfaces, structuring of tropical clouds, rocket engine combustion, use of artificial Intelligence for designing aeronautic engines, evolution of cosmic structures: these few research subjects belong to a wider range of 27 projects selected following appraisal by the Scientific Committees.

In addition to enabling outstanding simulations, this new supercomputer also supported responses to some of the most pressing challenges society is facing today, including in particular health issues and more specifically the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the PRACE1 Fast Track COVID-19 call and the GENCI national COVID-19 calls, 18 projects were able to use the computing resources of Joliot-Curie.

GENCI and CEA would like to end this introduction by acknowledging the commitment of the women and men who make up the high performance computing community, bringing this ambition to fruition.

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