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N°29  |  September   2008
Hot topics
Bull and CEA: a collaboration contract for the design and acquisition of a Petaflops-scale supercomputer

The Military Applications Department (DAM) at the French Atomic Energy Authority (CEA) and Bull have signed a collaboration contract to design and build TERA 100, the future supercomputer to support the French nuclear weapons Simulation Program. This long-term project will consist of two phases:

  • An initial R&D stage will enable the technologies needed by the new computer to be validated; these new technologies will have many repercussions in the future, both for industry and society
  • A second phase will enable the CEA to acquire and implement TERA 100, the first Petaflops-scale* system to be designed in Europe. To meet the needs of the CEA’s Simulation Program, the supercomputer will stand out by its capacity to run a wide spectrum of applications by the fine balance between its processing power and data throughput as well as by its fault-tolerant capability. As a real multi-purpose system with extremely high levels of productivity, TERA 100 will also be developed on the basis of open source software and X86 architecture processor.

Significant investment in research and development

Developing the new TERA 100 supercomputer will involve significant upfront research and development work. Bull and the CEA will combine their respective skills and expertise in this area: in particular, Bull will provide its know-how in the design and operation of high-performance servers, along with the software development expertise needed to operate large-scale systems; for its part, the CEA will contribute its expertise in specifications, computer architecture and application development, as well as its in-depth understanding of infrastructures for very large Data Centers.
As a result, there will be several hundred highly-qualified engineers and researchers working on this project.

Technologies supporting numerous areas of the economy

Petaflops-scale technologies have strategic importance not only for university research but also for industry and employment more widely. High-performance computer simulation has become essential when it comes to modeling and simulation, particularly in areas such as aeronautics, energy, climatology, life sciences, finance and information processing, but also for sustainable development and energy saving. High-Performance Computing (HPC) has become a vital resource when it comes to investigation and simulation, as well as a major asset when it comes to competitiveness in research and industry, and a fundamental element of national sovereignty.

About the CEA

The French nuclear energy authority, or Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) is a major player in research, development and innovation, and a contributor to three key sectors: energy, information technology and healthcare, and defense and security; building on its excellence in fundamental research.
With 15,000 researchers and staff, the CEA is an important resource for the public sector, offering a wealth of expertise and consultancy services. A driving force for industrial innovation, the CEA has developed a number of partnerships with French and European businesses.

*Petaflops: one million billion operations per second


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