The supercomputer that excites German scientists

The supercomputer that excites German scientists


The new Jülich research center calculator can perform up to 12 quadrillion mathematical operations per second, which makes it one of the best in the world.

Up to twelve petaflops – that is, billions of operations per second – can be carried out by the supercomputer JUWELS, of the Supercomputing Center in Lülich (Germany), which will be operational these days. It is the machine that will replace the JUQUEEN high-speed calculator, which with 5.9 petaflops was once the fastest supercomputer in Europe.

United States and China in the lead

The fastest supercomputers are also known as exescale computers. The list of the fastest 500 was published this week and is led by Summit, an IBM machine that reaches the speed of 122 petaflops. That prodigy is in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the United States. In the second place is Sunway TaihuLight, from the National Supercomputing Center of Wuxi, China, with 93 petaflops.

Six of the ten fastest calculators in the world are in the United States, two in China, one in Japan and one in Switzerland. To reach the top 10, currently a machine must work at least 14 petaflops.

The goal, an exaescala

The research center projects the next expansion of the supercomputer by 2020. Together with the Stuttgart High Performance Computing Center (HLRS) and the Leibniz Supercomputing Center in Garching (LRZ), the Jülich experts created the Gauss Supercomputing Center (GCS). All together have submitted a proposal to the European Union for the construction of an excaling supercalculator.

Summit, the fastest supercomputer in the world.

The new machine should have a capacity that surpasses all current top 20 together. We talk about more than 500 petaflops. Crazy. However, that does not guarantee in any way that this calculator enter the club of the fastest in the world, because China and the United States also work in the next generation of supermachines. China announced that in 2019 a new computer will come into operation, while the United States will surely do the same in 2020.

Speed is not everything

While the number of possible mathematical operations is very important for practical research work, what is most important is what is desired with the capabilities of the machines.

Jülich’s computer scientists are considering a modular construction of the machine, an option that opens up numerous job opportunities for research groups. To do this in Jülich think about the installation of a large number of cores in the architecture of the machine, something that can slow down, but at the same time helps saving energy.

This, because by building it in this way, the engineers manage to dissipate the heat of the system and make unnecessary the installation of an additional cooling source, which is expensive and consumes a lot of energy. Many other supercalculators can not operate without that external help.

The researchers’ interest in what that supercomputer can offer is also high. When JUWELS starts operating, there are already 87 awarded research projects, so next month the computer will be fully covered. The projects include simulations of quantum physics applied to medicine, as well as neurological, biology, chemistry and even materials science research. There are also studies on climate, because experts can model the climatic systems of the planet thanks to supercomputers.

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