Joliot-Curie: the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to research in France

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, and GENCI, the French national high-performance computing organization, and the CEA, reveal that Joliot- Curie supercomputer with its 22 petaflop/s peak computing power is the most powerful supercomputer in France dedicated to academic and industrial open research, and the third most powerful research computer in Europe, according to the TOP500 ranking published on 22 June 2020. This supercomputer is derived from the co-design work carried out by the CEA with Atos for more than 20 yearsi, and which made it possible to define current power computing architectures. The Joliot-Curie supercomputer ranks in 34th position in the TOP500 and is powered by Atos’ BullSequana XH2000 platform and the latest AMD Rome processors.


Nearly one year on from its inauguration, Joliot-Curie is now operating at full speed for the last 6 months and has been extensively used in over a dozen academic and industrial fields such as climate, astrophysics, geophysics, high fidelity combustion, biology, molecular dynamics and material properties, genome and neuroscience fields.


Operated at the CEA’s Very Large Computing Centre (TGCC), this extraordinary machine has proven its capabilities to provide urgent computing access to large scale HPC resources in the fight against COVID-19 less than 2 months after being released in production, thanks also to strong support provided by CEA experts who set up the necessary environment to operate and post-process efficiently COVID-19 simulations.


As part of the PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) COVID-19 Fast Track call and the national urgent COVID-19 calls from GENCI, European scientists have being using French supercomputer resources to power 36 COVID-19 projects with 18 of these


running on Joliot-Curie, providing scientific results used to accelerate and support public decision-making for the fight against Covid-19 and speed up the development of a treatment based on an optimum knowledge of the virus.


Since January 2020, Joliot-Curie now boasts an extensive computing power with more than 440,000 high performance x86 cores in nearly 5000 of HPC nodes. It is the first supercomputer installed worldwide with AMD EPYC™ 7H12 series processors integrated in Atos’ latest BullSequana XH2000, which features DLC (Direct Liquid Cooling) for an optimized energy-efficient platform.


Stephane Requena, CTO of GENCI, said: “With its modular and balanced architecture, Joliot-Curie is one of the most-used systems in the PRACE European HPC infrastructure; we are really proud to be able to offer such computing power to European researchers, in particular in the fight against COVID-19”.


Helene Bringer, Director Big Data & HPC at Atos in France, added: “Each new Top500 ranking underlines the rapid pace of innovation in the field of High Performance Computing. With six supercomputers, including Joliot Curie, we are proud to be ranked among the top 50 leaders in the world thanks to our extremely high-performance BullSequana technology, and to contribute to industrial and scientific competitiveness in Europe.”


Christine Ménaché, Head of the CEA’s Very Large Computing Center (TGCC) said: “All the TGCC teams have been mobilized to support users in their use of this new AMD-Rome partition in Joliot-Curie, particularly those involved in projects against COVID-19. The CEA is proud to be able to support French and European research thanks to its expertise developed in the definition of computer center architectures, the implementation and use of supercomputers and their environment, notably through Joliot-Curie”.



The AMD partition of Joliot-Curie was funded under the European project PPI4HPC (H2020- 754271), which aims to acquire innovative computing and storage solutions, through a joint procurement coordinated by GENCI, for leading HPC centers CEA/GENCI, CINECA (Italy), JUELICH (Germany) and BSC (Spain). Additionally, GENCI, CEA and Atos are proud to announce the acquisition of a new state-of-the-art ARM A64FX Fujitsu partition under PPI4HPC to further increase the capabilities of the Joliot-Curie machine and support building the path to Exascaleii for European and French researchers.

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