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At the end of a busy year that was overshadowed by restrictions related to the ongoing global pandemic, it is time to reflect on what has been achieved. In the last newsletter, we reported on the arrival of the first phase of the new Dardel supercomputer at PDC. Now we are proud that the system is available for researchers and is starting to fulfil its mission: to enable new and exciting research. To reach this point has involved overcoming more challenges than initially expected, but this is part of the risk when utilising brand new technology. It was right and important to make a forward-looking decision.

In his articles Making Dardel Easy to Use  and Dardel Update , Gert Svensson highlights some of the changes PDC has introduced with Dardel, as well as various extensions to the system that are in the pipeline. The first users from different research teams in Sweden started to get access to the system in October as part of the final test phase. During this phase, both the supplier, HPE, and PDC tested the availability and stability of the system before final acceptance. Two of the teams present their first results in this newsletter. The team lead by Philipp Schlatter and Dan Henningson from KTH started to use Dardel for simulating wings ( Dardel-Pilots Simulate Wings Using Nek5000 ), while Olle Eriksson’s team from Uppsala University and their international colleagues show how to use the system for materials sciences ( Materials Theory Codes on Dardel at PDC ).

Together with our partners in Sweden, PDC continues to be involved in the evolution of the EuroHPC infrastructure. This opens up opportunities for Swedish researchers to leverage compute resources on upcoming pre-exascale systems like LUMI, for which access policies and mechanisms are now being established ( PRACE & EuroHPC JU Join Forces ).

For a research infrastructure provider like PDC, tight links to research are needed to ensure that it stays attuned to the needs of the researchers. In this newsletter, you will find two examples of PDC’s engagement with research communities. Niclas Jansson and Jonathan Vincent describe how they and their colleagues are supporting the engineering community at a European level to get ready for exascale performance ( Towards Exascale in Engineering ). In the previous PDC newsletter, we briefly mentioned the exciting news that EBRAINS (the research infrastructure that emerged from the Human Brain Project) made it onto the ESFRI list of European research infrastructures. Mikael Djurfeldt provides an update on recent developments ( EBRAINS News ).

In the past, computing resources at PDC had mainly been used by computational scientists for numerical simulations. Meanwhile, data science methods have become ubiquitous and thus the use of PDC resources, as well as the research at PDC, is changing. Xavier Aguilar co-authored a recent publication where he explored how particle-in-cell simulations can be combined with deep-learning methods ( A Deep-Learning-Based Particle-in-Cell Method for Plasma Simulations ). Next year, Dardel will be augmented with several hundred AMD Instinct MI200 GPUs. These will be the most powerful GPUs available at the time of their deployment. These GPUs will not only accelerate simulations, but will also be useful for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. We are therefore looking forward to teaming up with the AI Sweden initiative, which is described by Fredrik Viksten and Niclas Fock, who are driving the initiative ( AI Sweden Initiative ).

Using GPUs as compute accelerators is one example of how quickly technology is changing. Therefore, investing in training continues to be vital. This year the series of PDC summer schools continued ( PDC Summer School ), and fortunately the CodeRefinery project has been extended for a third phase ( CodeRefinery Enters Sustainability Phase ), so their valuable training will continue to be available to researchers seeking to improve coding skills. PDC looks for new opportunities to promote high-performance computing (HPC) education and hence is looking forward to becoming part of the EUMaster4HPC project, which aims to strengthen HPC education through joint- and double- degree masterʼs in HPC programmes as well as coordinating curricula at a European level ( EUMaster4HPC ). And many of the established training efforts are continuing ( AI February at ENCCS  and BioExcel CoE: Recent Activities ). EUMaster4HPC also aims to collaborate closely with industry, which aligns well with PDC’s ambition to support private companies in using HPC for research and development, for example, in collaboration with ENCCS ( Swedish HPC Business Day 2021 ).

I hope this summary shows how much the PDC team has achieved throughout the year. This provides a good basis for facing new challenges in 2022. The new year will bring significant extensions to the Dardel system. By adding a GPU partition, the compute performance of the system will be significantly increased. Now there are only a few months left to finalize the porting of applications and to get them ready for exploiting this new hardware. Another challenge that is ahead of us is the reorganization of HPC in Sweden, where we are looking forward to finding new ways of serving research in Sweden through an advanced and continuously modernized research infrastructure.

Let me finish with a big “thank youˮ to the PDC team. Every member of the team has contributed in different roles to what has been achieved during this year. Finally, I wish all our readers a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday. May it be an opportunity for you to recharge your batteries and refresh your minds for a good start to the new year!

Dirk Pleiter, Director PDC