While often neglected in the past, you might have noticed some recent changes in the global perception of HPC around you. Sometimes (wrongly) seen in the past as an useless expensive asset consuming too much energy (and money), HPC is suddenly referred to in glowing terms, more importantly as something crucial for the development and the economy of the country, and also for the excellence of R&D and innovation. See for instance this article in Wort.lu “What’s the deal with Luxembourg’s supercomputer?” (also available in French). “Finally!” was probably the best way to summarize our feeling when looking at this new enthusiasm around HPC at the national level.
The main reason for this change of mind is the recent position of the EU, which finally acknowledged the “necessity to act and invest in the development and deployment of HPC technology, Big Data and Applications”.
On a global level, Europe is falling behind in both HPC and Big data. […] The risk that we get technologically locked, delayed or deprived of strategic know-how is very real. There is an increasing recognition of the strategic security and economic impact of HPC enabled applications.
As a consequence, a European Strategic Positioning Paper was released to define an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) on HPC and Big Data Enabled Applications IPCEI-HPC-BDA by the Luxembourg government. Led by Luxembourg, and together with France, Italy and Spain, the project was officially launched on November 17th 2015 at the European Data Forum – an article was published in Wort.lu at this occasion.
In this context, the UL, together with LIST and Luxinnovation will support the Ministry of Economy to provide an HPC and Big Data Enabled Applications implementation roadmap to the European Council and European Commission by September 2016.
Of course, we can only be delighted of this new orientation we have been maintaining for years. Even some close decision makers now review their positions and come to admit the importance of supporting HPC – see for instance the recent interview of SnT Director Björn Ottersten in Wort.lu.
Anyway, even if this definitively rewards our continuous efforts to give to HPC the necessary recognition and means (i.e budget) at the highest levels, we should now pay attention to the increased number of “opportunists” in the country claiming a sudden HPC expertise to drive this project. While this is somehow expected by looking at the amount of money involved, doing so by deliberately ignoring the UL expertise induced by the continuous developments of it HPC platform (which remains for years the largest facility of this type in Luxembourg after GoodYear industrial R&D Center) is more problematic. See for instance this recent RTL interview of Gabriel Crean, the president of LIST.
Striving to have our technical expertise serving the project and drive the implementation plan in a meaningful way (i.e. for the sake of the country and the university) will be our duties for the coming months. Yet your support is also required to recall when it is needed our justified excellence in HPC and related domains such as Big Data.