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RIKEN and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) have signed a collaboration agreement on high-performance computing.

​On 11 January 2017, RIKEN and CEA signed an agreement aimed at developing their collaborations on high-performance computing (HPC), a strategic area for France and Japan in terms of national sovereignty as well as in scientific and economic terms. HPC is the basis for numerical simulation and for processing of large volumes of data. 

Published on 19 January 2017

In 2014 and 2015, Japan and France announced that they were taking up the challenge of exascale computing, with the aim of developing the next generation of supercomputers, 100 times more powerful than the current generation, on a 2020-2025 timescale.


This agreement is intended to enable France and Japan to join forces in the worldwide race on this strategic topic. The French and Japanese approaches show a number of similarities, not only in their technological choices but also in the importance given to the construction of user ecosystems around these new supercomputers.


This collaboration falls within the framework of an agreement between the French Minister for National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR) and the Japanese Minister for Education, Culture, Sports and Science and Technology (MEXT) signed recently.


The scope of the collaboration encompasses the development of open-source software components, organised within an environment intended to be of benefit both to hardware designers and to developers of software and applications, for both x86 and ARM architectures. The open-source approach is particularly suitable for combining the respective efforts of the partners, converging the software environments on these architectures, still very different at present, and giving the greatest possible echo to the results – in particular through contributions to the OpenHPC collaborative project.

The priority topics identified cover the programming environments and languages, the runtime environments, and energy-aware job schedulers. The performance and effectiveness indicators and metrics are the focus of particular attention – with the central concern of designing useful and productive computers with the best possible efficiency – along with training and skill generation. Lastly, the first applications proposed in the collaboration deal with quantum chemistry and condensed matter physics, and the seismic resistance of nuclear facilities.

RIKEN, founded in 1917, is Japan's largest multidisciplinary research institution, with a staff of 3400 persons and a budget of 750 million euros; it plays a leading international role in the fields of physics, biology, medical research, engineering and computing. It hosts and operates the K-computer, the world's most powerful supercomputer between 2011 and 2013 and still among those with the highest performance. RIKEN is leading the national Post-K computer programme with the objective of exaflops capacity in 2021, coordinating R&D and industrial efforts with the needs of the applications in order to produce effective and productive computing systems and solutions.

CEA is a French multidisciplinary research institution, with a workforce of more than 15,000 persons and a budget of 4.1 billion euros. Its activity focuses on four areas: fundamental research (physical sciences and life sciences), technological research for industry, nuclear energy (fission and fusion), defence and security. It has been ranked as the world's most innovative public-sector research institution in the Thomson Reuters 2016 Top 25 Global Innovators – Government list. The CEA supercomputing complex (TGCC) at Bruyères-le-Châtel hosts several multi-petaflops supercomputers used by French and European researchers, and by industry (the Computing Centre for Research and Technology – CCRT – is dedicated to industrial usage). Since 2014, the French government has tasked CEA with designing and producing sustainably competitive high-performance computers (exascale around 2020). Funded by the Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir (Investments for the Future Programme), this action comprises an ambitious R&D programme with selected industrial partners, in order to steer the evolution of the architecture and software environment of supercomputers.

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