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Flash from Ter@tec Forum 2010



Analysts Donald Callahan and Daniel LeBourhis of Duquesne Group give their first take on the “big picture“ messages emerging from the Ter@tec Forum in its second day at Ecole Polytechnique outside of Paris.


Flash from Ter@tec Forum 2010
The Ter@tec Forum 2010 on high performance simulation for innovation and competitiveness is arguably one of the very most important IT events this year in Europe.

We will write in a more detailed way later but three big messages that are crucial for the economic future of Europe seem to be emerging.

HPC is an engine for innovation

The economic stakes are extraordinarily high. Science - including the applied sciences that drive business innovation - no longer rests only on the two traditional pillars of theory and experimentation. Numerical simulation with HPC (high performance computing) has become the third pillar of progress in numerous domains such as aeronautical design, energy, weather, transportation… Presentation after presentation demonstrated that not only could things be done much faster with HPC, but that numerical simulation has made it possible to do things that could not be done before.

Europe is under-investing ... again

The bad news is that, once again, Europe is lagging. Relative to the size of their economies, investments in HPC are twice as important in the US as in Europe. On the high end, supercomputing spending increased by 25% 2007-2009 despite the recession, while it declined 9% in Europe. Even countries such as S. Korea are putting in a stronger relative performance than Europe. China and Russia are also moving forward. All of these countries have recognised that high performance numerical simulation is now crucial for innovation, which is today the true “wealth of nations.”

The HPC ecosystem is coming together in Europe

There is however some good news, starting with Ter@tec itself, the core of a European high performance simulation technopole, which will work together with others in the European HPC space. The EU is now taking HPC very seriously. At the Forum, the quality and senior level of the speakers, together with the quality of the presentations is evidence that the ecosystem is coming together. (The presentations were “low key, high competence”, the exact opposite of what one usually finds in IT events.)

The announcement from the CEA – that it had put into operation the Tera 100 supercomputer built by Bull around the new Intel chips – was especially interesting. As the CEA explained, the system was developed through very close cooperation with the supplier, a true example of “co-innovation”. In a domain where applications tend to be close to the machines, we expect that this sort of “customer-driven co-innovation” may well be a key model for progress in the future.


The competitive stakes are indeed high. Still, all in all, Europe has the ingredients for success, but it will take smart investments and lots of work to pull it all together and make “high performance happen”.

Wednesday, June 16th 2010
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Duquesne Advisory

Duquesne Advisory Ltd is a European firm, headquartered in the UK, dedicated to researching, understanding and advising clients worldwide on opportunities and trends in Information and Communications technology.

Research

Duquesne Advisory delivers in-depth analyses of Information and Communications Technologies, their implementations and their markets. Research is based on critical observation of the market by the analysts and their on-going contacts with the vendor community, together with hands-on, practical experience in consulting engagements.

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The analysts of Duquesne Advisory leverage the Firm’s ongoing market and technology research to undertake high added value consulting engagements for both ICT users and ICT providers. Focused on client service, their approach is rigorous and methodical, and at the same time pragmatic and operational.