Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, April 18, 2024

GENCI and CNRS Select Eviden to Lead Expansion of Jean Zay Supercomputer, Strengthening France’s Sovereign AI Strategy 

March 28, 2024 -- Following the announcement made by the French President at the Vivatech conference in June 2023, the Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif (GENCI) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), under the aegis of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, have selected Eviden to provide a major extension to the capacity of the Jean Zay supercomputer, funded by the France 2030 Program. This announcement marks a new step towards sovereign AI.

After a competitive dialogue phase, GENCI and CNRS have selected Eviden to supply a new, NVIDIA-powered computing infrastructure for the French national supercomputing centers. After preliminary works of compute room adaptation, the NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPU-based partition of Jean Zay, GENCI’s supercomputer operated by the CNRS’s Institut de développement et de ressources en informatique scientifique (IDRIS), will be installed by Eviden in April and will be fully available to users in early summer 2024.

This extension to the Jean Zay computer will allow an increase in the peak computing power from 36.85 to 125.9 PFlop/s. In so doing, available computing capacity will be multiplied by 3.5 in double precision (for high-performance computing) and by 13 if reduced or mixed precision is used, as in the case of artificial intelligence. Also, a new storage infrastructure will make it possible to read/write at high speed and make the associated models and datasets available.

In addition to its level of performance, Jean Zay is one of the most eco-efficient machines in Europe, thanks to the massive use of accelerated technologies (GPUs) and core warm water cooling of the computing servers. The machine’s waste heat is also re-used to help heat more than 1,000 homes on the Saclay area, thanks to a joint investment by CNRS and EPAPS.

Emmanuel Le Roux, SVP, HPC, AI and Quantum Director at Eviden, Atos Group, commented: “We are delighted to have been chosen by GENCI to develop one of the most powerful supercomputers in France, dedicated to supporting French AI research. Thanks to this collaboration, which brings together the best of our experts, France’s academic and industrial research communities will have all the power they need for their work. This collaboration will help to foster the emergence of both new AI models and new computing technologies dedicated to AI.”

The acquisition of this extension, carried out with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty) and the General Secretariat for Investment, in charge of France 2030, has benefited from funding from France 2030.

IDRIS will operate a computing machine of exceptional power and functionality, open to national academic and industrial research communities. They will be able to carry out numerical simulations using high-performance computing, and train or specialize so-called “foundation” or “generative” artificial intelligence models, whether in the field of language processing, vision, multimodality, explainable AI, or in biology, health, materials, new energies and low-carbon mobility, fundamental physics, climate/weather, etc.

This new evolution is in line with the announcement made by French President Emmanuel Macron on 14 June at the Vivatech 2023 conference, to support the development of sovereign artificial intelligence, in particular generative AI. To this end, GENCI has been awarded €40m. This grant also includes an additional €10m to strengthen and extend the human resources of the French National Artificial Intelligence Research Programme (PNRIA) and to support AI communities. The goal is to guarantee the long-term quality of the service provided by the CNRS network of AI support engineers, which helps AI communities to carry out their projects at Jean Zay.

This new availability of computing resources available to scientific communities will help to boost the capabilities of the French AI sector in the face of international competition.


In total after this extension, Jean Zay will be equipped with 1,456 NVIDIA H100 GPUs, in addition to the 416 NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs and 1,832 NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPUs remaining from the old configuration. Jean Zay’s increased power will be provided by 14 Eviden BullSequana XH3000 compute racks featuring 364 dual-processor Intel Sapphire Rapids 48-core servers, 512 GB of memory and four NVIDIA H100 80GB SXM5 GPUs, each interconnected by four high-speed NVIDIA ConnectX-7 400Gb/s InfiniBand network adapters.

The storage environment will be completely overhauled, offering a first level of 4.3 PB of flash technology (read/write speeds of over 1 TB/s) and a second level of 39 PB of fast disk technology (read/write speeds of over 300 GB/s), both under Lustre and supplied by DDN.


Created by the public authorities in 2007, GENCI (Grand Équipement National de Calcul Intensif) is a major research infrastructure. This public operator aims to democratise the use of digital simulation through high performance computing associated with the use of artificial intelligence, and quantum computing to support French scientific and industrial competitiveness.

About CNRS

A major player in basic research worldwide, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is the only French organization active in all scientific fields. Its unique position as a multi-specialist enables it to bring together all of the scientific disciplines in order to shed light on and understand the challenges of today’s world, in connection with public and socio-economic stakeholders. Together, the different sciences contribute to sustainable progress that benefits society as a whole.

About Eviden

Eviden is a next-gen technology leader in data-driven, trusted and sustainable digital transformation with a strong portfolio of patented technologies. With worldwide leading positions in advanced computing, security, AI, cloud and digital platforms, it provides deep expertise for all industries in more than 47 countries. Bringing together 47,000 world-class talents, Eviden expands the possibilities of data and technology across the digital continuum, now and for generations to come. Eviden is an Atos Group company with an annual revenue of c. € 5 billion.

Source: Eviden