“Helios” supercomputer excels in acceptance tests and gets ready to perform complex plasma calculations.
The supercomputer is operational according to schedule at the International Fusion Energy Research Centre (IFERC) hosted by the Japanese Atomic Energy Authority (JAEA) in Rokkasho, Japan. The machine that was manufactured by Bull and whose mission is to perform complex calculations for plasma physics and fusion technology, has passed its acceptance tests achieving 1,132 Petaflop LINPACK performance. The Computer Simulation Centre (CSC), where “Helios” operates, is an important component of Europe’s contribution to the Broader Approach (BA), an agreement signed between Europe and Japan to complement the ITER project through various R&D activities in the field of nuclear fusion. The European participation to the BA is coordinated by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Union organisation managing Europe’s contribution to ITER. The supercomputer was provided by France as a part of its voluntary contribution to the BA, through a contract between the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) and Bull.
The acceptance tests of the supercomputer were carried out between 13-22 December 2011 in Rokkasho, Japan. The tight construction schedule was successfully met offsetting any disruptions caused by the great East-Japan earthquake in March 2011. It’s a first for a large piece of equipment stemming from an international scientific collaboration, to be procured by a European team and get assembled in Japan. The installation of the equipment was completed in early December and by the end of the month a 1.132 Petaflops LINPACK performance was achieved, ranking “Helios” on the fifth position of the TOP-500 November 2011 list.
The operation of the supercomputer will kick off with four high-visibility runs otherwise known as “light-house projects” which are expected to shed light on plasma calculations. From January to March 2012, the four selected codes will run one at a time to test-drive the capacities of the supercomputer and achieve maximum performance. The first call for proposals has attracted high numbers from both European and Japanese researchers, and submissions are under review. It is expected that routine operation will start in April 2012.
Based on the number of proposals submitted to the first call, there has been an oversubscription by a factor of three of the computer’s time, demonstrating the great interest from the European and Japanese fusion communities to use the supercomputer facility. The majority of proposals address issues related to plasma physics (turbulence, MHD, edge physics and integrated modeling) together with an important number of proposals addressing technology issues. Click here to view the distribution chart.
 The LINPACK benchmark is a measure of a computer’s floating point rate of execution. It is the performance parameter used to classify the TOP 500 list of supercomputers.