Why the Jean Zay supercomputer is experiencing a performance boost in artificial intelligence

The Jean Zay supercomputer is at the heart of several cutting-edge research projects such as Big Science. It has become an essential tool and ActuIA has also dedicated a topic to it in the next issue of the magazine that will be published in a few days. Last month, GENCI, the French national agency in charge of high-performance computing and storage resources for academic and industrial research, the CNRS through IDRIS (Institute for Development and Resources in Scientific Computing), Hewlett Packard Enterprise ( HPE) and NVIDIA have announced a massive increase in their resources dedicated to artificial intelligence research. We take a look at this announcement that will allow the organization to respond to the growing demand.

The Jean Zay supercomputer is a giant. Physically, it occupies an area of ​​150 m2, weighs 43 tons and is close to 2 MWh of electricity consumption. It is the first French supercomputer convergent between intensive computing and AI, the result of the national plan “AIForHumanity” of March 2018. GENCI (Grand Equipment National de Calcul Intensif) makes it available to French and European AI researchers who thus benefit from your calculation. high performance.

Commissioned at the end of 2019, Jean Zay is one of the most powerful converged supercomputers in Europe. It benefits from a hierarchical organization on several levels that allows it to support a very important data access load. It is free to use for open research in HPC and AI. More than 700 academic or industrial research projects (of startups, SMEs and large companies) that use AI methods have benefited from its resources.

The projects it enabled focused on very diverse areas: smart cities, health and medicine (the fight against Covid-19 and cancer, for example), neurosciences, robotics, social sciences, chemistry, particle physics, astrophysics, climatology, automatic language processing, computing. vision, etc.

Nine artificial intelligence experts from CNRS and INRIA joined IDRIS’s application support team, which now numbers 21 people.

Increase the resource of Jean Zay

Jean Zay will see his configuration evolve further to reach a total of more than 3,152 GPUs by early 2022, comprising both NVIDIA V100 GPUs and NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs. The power of the first should allow doubling the current computing capacity dedicated to Artificial Intelligence in Jean Zay.
This expansion will offer 52 HPE Apollo 6500 Gen 10 servers, each with 8 NVIDIA A100s (a total of 640 GB of HBM2 memory per server), especially suitable for large vision or TAL models.

The deployment of this new computing capacity will allow the development of innovative research projects on a global scale, such as the BigScience and COVID_19.L projects.

IDRIS and the Paris-Saclay Public Planning Establishment (EPAPS) plan to recycle the heat produced by the Jean Zay supercomputer to supply the heat and cold exchange network of the Paris-Saclay urban campus, allowing a thermal blanket equivalent to 1,000 homes.

Philippe Lavocat, President and CEO of GENCI, stated:

“The extension of Jean Zay reinforces France’s position among the leading countries in academic and industrial research in artificial intelligence. This is one of GENCI’s key missions, in accordance with its strategic plan. This bears witness to the Jean Zay supercomputer in the scientific community and the relevance of the answer to their AI needs. “

According to Antoine Petit, President and CEO of CNRS:

“Artificial intelligence and its
The applications are one of the priorities of the CNRS described in its objectives and performance contract (2019-2023). Strengthening of Jean Zay’s computing resources, hosted
and operated by IDRIS, the national center for high-performance computing CNRS, is essential to respond to multiple emerging challenges in research communities
French, including those of the CNRS. The CNRS is making significant efforts to provide the best possible environment for IDRIS and the best support for users ”.

Renaud Vedel, coordinator of the national AI strategy:

“Following the recommendation of the Villani report, the French strategy for AI has made equal access to supercomputers key. All researchers who publish according to the rules of open science, from public laboratories but also from private teams and in particular from startups, can benefit from it, with the additional support of application support teams. And today we can see that this double bet
is a winner: accelerates the diffusion of AI in all scientific disciplines and
technological fields and offers them new discovery tools. We are happy to support GENCI and IDRIS, who have successfully embarked on this new expansion. “

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