Human Brain Project (HBP)

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The goal of the Human Brain Project (HBP) is to gather all existing knowledge about the human brain and to reconstruct the brain in multi-scale models and supercomputer-based simulations of these models. The resulting “virtual brain” offers the prospect of a fundamentally new understanding of the human brain and its diseases, as well as novel, brain-like computing technologies.

Since October 2013 the EC is supporting this vision through its Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship Initiative. The HBP’s 3-year Ramp-Up Phase, which will last until September 2016, is funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7). This phase should be followed by a partially overlapping Operational Phase, which will be supported under the next Framework Programme, Horizon 2020. The HBP as a whole is planned to be implemented in three phases, spread over ten years, with an estimated total budget of more than EUR 1 billion. The project, which is coordinated by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, already brings together 80 European and international research institutions.

The task of the HBP’s HPC Platform subproject is to build the supercomputing and data hard- and software infrastructure required to run cellular brain model simulations of the size of a full human brain, and to make this infrastructure available to the consortium and the wider community. Central element of the HPC Platform is the HBP Supercomputer, the project’s main production system located at Jülich Supercomputing Centre, which will be built in stages to arrive at the Exascale capability needed for cellular simulations of the complete human brain towards the end of the decade.

In agreement with the European Commission’s Policy concerning HPC, consortium partner Forschungszentrum Jülich as the leader of the HBP’s High Performance Computing Platform subproject conducts a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) for the HBP in order to obtain appropriate, innovative HPC technology solutions that meet the specific requirements of the project.

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, a publicly funded, non-profit research organisation located in Germany, will act as the Procuring Entity for the HBP PCP.

For more information about the HBP, please visit https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/.

Goal of the HBP PCP

Large-scale brain simulations running on the future pre-exascale and exascale versions of the HBP Supercomputer will need to be interactively visualised and controlled by experimenters, locally and from remote locations. “Interactive Supercomputing” capabilities will allow the supercomputer to be used like a scientific instrument, enabling in silico experiments on virtual human brains. These requirements will affect the whole system design, including the hardware architecture, run-time system, mode of operation, resource management and many other aspects.

The HBP PCP aims to obtain architectural solutions that will permit interactive use of large-scale supercomputers. More specifically, it will procure R&D of HPC system components that allow interactive visualization and steering of large-scale brain simulations on an HPC architecture capable of providing a floating-point peak performance up to 50 PFlop/s. Suppliers will be required to deliver pilot systems, demonstrating the readiness of the developed technologies and their integration into a scalable HPC architecture for a representative set of HBP use cases. The pilots should be deployed and operated as “pre-production” test systems at Jülich Supercomputing Centre.

On the basis of this PCP, Forschungszentrum Jülich intends to conduct a commercial procurement of a production-scale system in the 2017-18 timeframe, i.e., in the next phase of the HBP. This system should incorporate results of this PCP in the form of products. Note that this does not constitute a formal commitment by Forschungszentrum Jülich to conduct such a procurement.