IBM-BSC - 20-years of successful collaboration

The collaboration between IBM and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) dates back to 2000, with many milestones achieved since then. This collaboration has been based on a series of agreements that have resulted in a number of projects, joint developments and papers in international conferences and journals, and has contributed to clear advances in hardware and software solutions at both sites.

  • 2000-2004: CEPBA-IBM Research Institute (CIRI)
  • 2004: Installation of first MareNostrum, ranked 4 in world Top500 list, first in Europe
  • 2005: Official creation of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and start of activities
  • 2005-2011: Research collaboration agreement - IBM Innovation Initiative at BSC
  • 2006: Upgrade of MareNostrum and creation of the Spanish Network for Supercomputing (RES)
  • 2007-2011: Research collaboration activities focused on the MareIncognito Project
  • 2012: Installation of MareNostrum III
  • 2013-2015: Technology Center for Supercomputing, a BSC-IBM initiative
  • 2016-2019: BSC-IBM Deep Learning Center
  • 2020: IBM-BSC Future of Computing Center

CEPBA-IBM Research Institute (CIRI)

IBM and BSC have a 20-year collaboration history with a strong partnership even before the creation of BSC. The collaboration history includes four main agreements. The first collaboration agreement ran from 2000 to 2004. Although BSC was created in 2005, the first partnership included IBM and the European Center for Parallelism of Barcelona (CEPBA). CEPBA was a research and supercomputing center that belonged to the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and became the core of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center once created. Such collaboration agreement was named the CEPBA-IBM Research Institute (CIRI).

The mission of CIRI was to contribute to the community through R&D in Information Technology with four main objectives: perform Research & Development, support external R&D, technology transfer, and education. The main focus areas were: Deep Computing (performance tools, parallel programming, grid, code optimization), Computer Architecture (vector and network processors), and Data Bases.

IBM Innovation Initiative at BSC and MareIncognito project

The second collaboration agreement ran from 2005 to 2011 and was established after BSC creation. Collaboration was named the “IBM Innovation Initiative at BSC” and extended for 6 years with the following goals:

  • Establish BSC-CNS as the first European center for open Linux application scaling
  • Collaborative work on basic research that is of mutual interest for BSC and IBM in the areas of programming and performance analysis methodologies and tools for HPC and novel computer architectures
  • Collaborative work on application scaling and benchmarking to maximize utilization of MareNostrum and expand its use in the commercial arena
  • BSC participates in in order to more effectively drive future design and standards based on Power Architecture™ technologies
  • Enhance the collaboration to help accelerate technology advances
  • Transfer the education and skills output of the collaboration activities to facilitate technology transfer to BSC, IBM, and IBM’s customers

In 2007, research collaboration projects focused to enable BSC to the research on the design and development of new generation of Petascale Supercomputers. The code name for the project was MareIncognito and focused on architecture design exploration, programming models and tools and application for Cell B./E. architectures. The MariCel prototype was installed in 2008, with an architecture similar to the US Roadrunner system, with the purpose of evaluating the latest software technologies developed at the BSC towards the efficient use of the novel multicore architectures at that time, and helping to define the hardware components and the software stack of future machines based on the PowerXCell evolution.

Technology Center for Supercomputing, a BSC-IBM initiative

The third collaboration agreement was initiated in 2013. This new collaboration, named Technology Center for Supercomputing, was a three year collaboration agreement with the following main goals:

  • Conduct basic research of mutual interest for BSC and IBM in HPC valuable in the future for IBM products, solutions and services. The collaboration resulted in 10 projects, mainly with IBM Zurich and Watson Research laboratories. Three main areas were explored: architecture, programming environments and two application areas (smart cities and deep learning/graph mining).
  • Educate and transfer skills on HPC to academia, IBM, and IBM's customers through different kind of activities supported by scholarships and grants. The collaboration resulted in around 20 IBM-BSC scholarships and more that 10 internships.
  • Finalize, disseminate and maintain a BSC HPC Service Catalog to develop the marked for the BSC capabilities, aligned with the interests of IBM, in Spain and World Wide.

Main collaboration goals focused on the research of technologies to build the next generation of supercomputers, on new technologies for the Smarter Cities field and on Biotechnology. Both institutes provided resources to the collaboration activities to fulfill those goals.

IBM-BSC Deep Learning Center

The IBM-BSC Deep Learning Center was a joint effort between IBM and BSC providing a framework for conducting joint research and development projects around “Deep Learning” technologies, and covering Algorithms, Data Centric Systems and Applications.The primary goals of the eollaboration were:  conduct basic research that is of mutual interest to BSC and IBM in the area of Deep Learning, valuable in the future to IBM products, solutions and services. The focus areas for the Deep Learning Center were:

The focus areas for the Deep Learning Center are:

  • Algorithms: Asynchronous algorithms, significance based (approximate) computing by means of run time systems, low-energy computing. Algorithms to improve and expand the cognitive capabilities of Deep Learning systems.
  • Data centric systems: Data centric architectures and runtime systems, data centric programming environments: acceleration and coherent memory, data movement reduction. New compilers for programming highly heterogeneous systems. Near memory accelerated computing on non-volatile memory devices.
  • Applications: Demonstrate high impact on key user/client Deep Learning applications, work on new BSC workloads and extend BSC and IBM outreach.

The agreement also included educate and transfer skills on HPC and Deep Leaming to academia, IBM and IBM's customers, through different kind of activities supported by scholarships and grants.