August 1, 2021

Teratec 2021 Forum: Combining HPC and quantum on hybrid simulation of applications

The scientific and industrial world of HPC and big data will meet at the Teratec 2021 Forum as part of a virtual conference (June 22-24) to take stock of the state of the art in high performance computing. Among the topics covered, the HPCQS consortium project aiming to combine HPC and quantum systems to perform hybrid calculations.

The Teratec Forum, the meeting place for the high-performance computing community which takes place at the beginning of the summer, has just started its 16th edition, online, until June 24. The sessions take place live, bringing together representatives from academia, user companies and HPC technology providers. These interventions will be available for replay in a few days. This Tuesday, one of them notably addressed European projects in the field of quantum hybrid computing, while quantum strategies are being implemented around the world, including in France around the plan of the same name, and a week after the presentation by the Fraunhofer Institute, at its premises in Ehningen (Germany), of the first Quantum System One assembled by IBM outside its own datacenters.

“The next step for HPC is the modular introduction of quantum accelerators (QPU) in computing centers,” explained Jean-Philippe Nomine, head of strategic HPC collaborations at CEA. Supercomputers and QPUs will allow scientists to perform hybrid classical-quantum calculations. The HPC project manager recalled in the introduction the two main components of the TGCC, the very large computing center of the CEA. On the one hand, the Genci research center (with its Joliot-Curie at 22 petaflops) intended to become the French reference center for public quantum computing infrastructures. On the other hand, on the industrial side, the CCRT, computing center in research and technology (and its Topaz at 9 pflops) which has already been hosting an Atos QLM simulator (31 qubits) for 3 years. With the latter, the objective is to help industrial partners to prepare for quantum by evaluating as early as possible what it can bring to their applications by exploring use cases. The CEA is now engaged in the European HPCQS project with Genci and the German research center of Juliers, the latter as coordinator, in a consortium selected by EuroHPC to build in 2023 a computer with a quantum accelerator of at least 100 qbits.

Main challenge: putting use cases into practice

The HPCQS consortium also brings together the CNRS and Inria, as well as Atos and the start-up Pasqal, which will respectively deliver the HPC and the integrated quantum accelerator. “We are impatient to have and experience two Pasqal machines, one at the TGCC, the other in Juliers,” said Jean-Philippe Nomine. The deeptech start-up Pasqal, which develops its quantum computer from the Institute of Optics (IOGS, CNRS) in Palaiseau, recently raised € 25 million in series A, benefiting from the first investment from the Defense Innovation fund managed by Bpifrance. It is developing a quantum accelerator based on neutral atom technology, which will strengthen the computing capacities of HPC systems by transforming them into hybrid quantum-HPC systems. A technology based on Rydberg atoms, controlled by laser (manipulation by optical tweezers). “They have already reached 200 qubits in the laboratory and are in the process of industrializing their solution,” recalled Jean-Philippe Nomine. The TGCC will therefore be one of its early users.

Kristel Michielsen, group leader for quantum information processing at the HPC center in Juliers (FZJ / JSC, Jülich Supercomputing Center), then presented a state of the art of quantum computing. There are many different quantum systems (superconducting qubits, neutral atoms, trapped ions…) whose maturity level is described by the QTRL scale (quantum technology readiness level). The main challenge remains the implementation of this technology, that is to say the development of prototype applications and use cases for quantum simulators, quantum computers and quantum annealing. “To achieve this, we believe it is necessary that HPC and quantum systems are associated,” said the scientist. Simulating quantum systems with HPCs will help to understand how they operate and it may help their design as well. For benchmarking too, these simulations are needed, to compare what quantum computers should do in theory with what existing quantum systems are doing. But the goal is above all, when HPCs and quantum systems are tightly integrated, to be able to perform hybrid simulation for applications. Kristel Michielsen presented the planned infrastructure at the Juliers research center and discussed, for the future, modular exascales systems for high-end simulation and large-scale AI applications for research in Europe, with the possible integration of quantum and neuromorphic technologies.

The unified infrastructure for quantum computing planned by the research center in Juliers, Germany, presented yesterday on Teratec 2021 by Kristel Michielsen. (Credit FZJ / JSC)

Digital twins for satellite data

The Teratec Forum continues until Thursday, June 24. After the keynotes and plenary sessions in the morning with, in particular, the interventions planned by Jensen Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia, on Wednesday, and Elie Girard, CEO of Atos, on Thursday, and the round tables around the technologies of suppliers, sessions are devoted to the presentation of European research projects, between noon and 1:30 p.m. As usual on Teratec, various sessions are organized by the suppliers and some are already “full” such as the one on “Lumi, the Queen of the North, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world ”. Nvidia for its part will address the challenges of automatic natural language processing based on Transformers models.

On the program for Wednesday, a session on cybersecurity during which Schneider Electric will speak in the field of Industry 4.0 and the use of connected objects, at 2 p.m. While at 4 p.m., CNES, Dassault Systèmes and other stakeholders will discuss the emergence of digital twins in the use of satellite data for the environment and climate. On Thursday, a session is dedicated to HPC storage and new paradigms to tackle the challenges of exascale architectures.