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A new cloud computing infrastructure for European research at CEA’s TGCC

​October 2020 - the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is deploying new computing and storage resources and services in its TGCC computing centre, for the benefit of research communities in Europe. Aside from conventional HPC resources, the new systems provide services such as sovereign cloud computing, object storage, and interactive computing. These systems will be opened to users in November, and will then be federated with other sites in Europe as part of the Fenix e-infrastructure from the beginning of 2021 onwards. 

Published on 13 October 2020

In the context of the ICEI European project, TGCC has been extended with new systems to address the specific needs of brain research and other scientific domains which require flexible and interactive HPC and data management services. This infrastructure will help researchers to map or simulate all or part of the human brain, but also to test artificial intelligence approaches for robotics, autonomous driving or other virtual environments. Personalised medicine applications will also benefit from Fenix, as well as, for instance, applications in material sciences. These new systems are designed by ATOS/Bull and extend TGCC service offering. They encompass:

  • An interactive computing cluster optimized for visualization, post-processing, interactive workloads, and AI. This cluster is equipped with the latest generation of Intel processors, high performance Nvidia GPUs, and up to 3 Tera-bytes of memory per server. This system is particularly suited to the simulation of, and interacting with, large neural structures (for so-called "interactive computing").
  • A cloud infrastructure allowing researchers to develop their own community services like web services, shared knowledge bases, and open-data platforms. Relying on the OpenStack open-source software suite, it can run up to 600 virtual servers.
  • A full flash parallel file system of nearly 1 Petabyte running Lustre. This high performance storage system is running on the latest generation of DataDirect Network controllers (DDN SSF 18KXe), and will support intensive data workloads.
  • An object store of 7 Petabytes running the OpenIO open-source storage software. This system will allow users to safely archive their data, and to share them on the Internet with other members of their research community.

CEA's TGCC is a leading European supercomputing facility, operated by teams of the CEA's Military applications division (DAM). The TGCC hosts in particular the Joliot-Curie supercomputer and its associated multi-level storage system, made available by GENCI (Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif) for French and European researchers. It is the most powerful supercomputer for research in France and recently reached a peak compute power of 22 Pflops.TGCC also hosts and operates the Cobalt supercomputer of the Computing Centre for Research and Technology (CCRT), a 2.4 Petaflops system dedicated to industrial use by CEA and twenty private partners - including Safran, Thales, EDF, Michelin, L'Oréal, Valéo, and others.TGCC delivers High Performance Computing services to academia and industry, for their numerical simulation, high performance data analytics and artificial intelligence applications in a huge diversity of areas. 

These new systems will be interacting with other similar systems in Europe (in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain) to form the Fenix federation of services. Deployed and tested in October, services will be federated beginning of 2021. This federation will manage the allocation of user resources (compute and storage) across computing centres. A unified and federated mechanism of authentication will also be implemented to allow users accessing the systems, regardless of their location. Fenix federation will also provide advanced services for data management, including data moving between sites or between storage systems (e.g. from high performance storage to archive storage).

"Thanks to Fenix I was able to benefit from very powerful computational resources to achieve high-performance simulations and also to interact with world class researchers to improve the relevance of my mathematical modeling approach", enthuses Alexandre Muzy, Deputy-Director of the NeuroMod Institute in Université Côte d'Azur, one of the first researchers to use these new services.
 About Fenix and ICEI                                                                     The Interactive Computing E-Infrastructure for the Human Brain Project (ICEI) project is executed by leading European supercomputing centres, namely BSC (Spain), CEA (France), CINECA (Italy), CSCS (Switzerland) and JSC (Germany), to realise the Fenix infrastructure. For this purpose these centres are deploying various infrastructure services in a federated manner. The distinguishing characteristic of this e-infrastructure is that data repositories and scalable supercomputing systems are in close proximity and well integrated, also offering interactive computing services. Fenix has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through the ICEI project under the grant agreement No. 800858.                                                        For more information:

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