Computer Performance of the Petaflop Class for Research, Development and Industry - Schavan and Kretschmann Inaugurate the Fastest Civil Super Computer in Europe

The fastest supercomputer in Germany, also the fastest civil super computer in Europe, was inaugurated today in a big event at the Stuttgart Center for High Performance Computing - HLRS. The Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, and Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, together with the rector of the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Wolfram Ressel, inaugurated the commissioning of the computer system Hermit, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, with a performance of more than 1 Petaflop/s (1 quadrillion computing operations per second, 10^15) .

At the HLRS, Hermit is going to be of great help in the research of important modern matters such as health, energy, environment and mobility. Furthermore, the system is the only one among the international competition designed to be used in industrial production processes.

Hermit, the fastest computer in Germany to date, holds number 12 on the renowned TOP500 lists of the worlds fastest supercomputers. In the ranking of industrially used supercomputers, Hermit is even number 1 worldwide.

“Supercomputers like Hermit contribute to strengthening Germany's position as a research pole. Computer simulations have evolved to be the third pillar of science, together with theory and experimentation. Many research areas can no longer do without it; a good example being health, energy, environment protection, and mobility. Those are themes which the federal government supports inside the high-tech strategy,” says, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, Federal Minister of Education and Research. “Great computer resources have also become an important means for the industry for the ability of shortening development time. With the commissioning of the supercomputer Hermit in Stuttgart, we continue the expansion of the national high performance computing centre, the 'Gauss Centre for Supercomputing', which is already a big success. Germany will maintain a leading position in supercomputing and become more attractive to excellent scientists from all over the world.“

Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann added: „Baden-Württemberg is one of the economically strongest and most competitive regions in Europe. We are leaders in the EU, especially in the areas of industrial high technology, research and development. With the new supercomputer in Stuttgart, we have taken a further step to ensure state-of-the-art research and, at the same time, offer industry users first-class resources, that will help them to advance positions in the international competition. We are not considering only the major industry, we also intend to help medium-sized companies, to whom such high performing computer resources are visibly harder to afford. The new high-performance computer brings sciences and business great opportunities to modernize, thus giving society a new impulse.“

Prof. Wolfram Ressel, rector of the University of Stuttgart, considers the official comissioning of the Petascale-computer at the HLRS a cornerstone marking the University of Stuttgart as a leading international address in sciences and research: „With the new Petaflop-computer and the expansion of the HLRS facilities, as well as the construction of the three new research facilities for VISUS, SimTech and HLRS, the University of Stuttgart is on its way to establishing itself as the leading science center for simulation technology in Germany and is leadering in Europe as well.“, rejoices Prof. Ressel. „Such events also mean a great deal of benefits to our Simulation Technology Excellence Cluster. In addition, we carry high-performance computing and simulation in the research industry and even in the daily production, thus making an important contribution to the competitiveness of our industry and a lasting contribution to strengthening Germany's economy.“ Not only fast, but also ecological.

In the first installation step, the high-performance computer at HLRS is based on the Cray XE6 Supercomputer technology and on the AMD Interlagos-Processor. That makes Hermit the first and largest system using such technology in Europe. The next step, planned for 2013, shall increase the performance by 4 to 5 Petaflop/s. „When configuring Hermit, we concentrated on the fact, that the enormous computing performance can also be made available to science as well as business“, explains Professor Michael Resch, Director of the HLRS. „Special emphasis was therefore placed on the sustained performance for real applications. In addition, it was very important for us to keep the energy consumption low and, thanks to e. g. an efficient cooling system, bringing the CO2 emissions of our system to a minimum. We are to glad to have found in Cray, Inc. a technology partner with whom we can cooperate to further develop these concepts.“

“Today’s inauguration of the Hermit Cray XE6 supercomputer is an important event for Cray as it marks another significant milestone in our long partnership with the University of Stuttgart, HLRS and its broad community of European scientific and engineering users,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “Hermit is one of the top supercomputers in world, and is Cray’s fastest supercomputer outside of the United States. In fact, Hermit is our first international system to break the petaflops speed barrier. This is an exciting day, and it’s an honor to represent Cray in this celebration with such an important, valued partner.”

The costs of 22,5 Million Euro for the hardware in the first installation phase and the yearly operating costs of about 2 million Euro are complemented by extensive investments in an energy efficient infrastructure. With external temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius, the new infrastructure offers the possibility to rely on free cooling of the overall system. Hermit is funded through the project „PetaGCS“ with support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Arts Baden-Württemberg. As part of the project, the three partners of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS) - the HLRS in Stuttgart, the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in Garching/München and the Jülich Research Centre (JSC) - shall be equipped with Petascale-Systems over a period of six years. Together, those centers form the biggest and most efficient platform for computer simulations and scientific and industrial research in Europe.

The distribution of calculating time for European projects is organized by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) and for national projects in coordination with the steering committees of the three national high performance computing centres of the Gauss centre for Supercomputing (HLRS, LRZ and JSC). The HLRS assumes the role of an interface to large scale industry, as well as small and medium sized businesses, which now have access to high peformance computing resources via a pay-per-use model.

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