Who will follow JUQUEEN to the throne?


Credit: Forschungszentrum Jülich / R.-U. Limbach

Jülich, 16. November 2017 – A figurehead of Forschungszentrum Jülich retires in the spring of 2018: JUQUEEN, Europe's fastest supercomputer for many years, will meet its successor. Forschungszentrum Jülich and the international IT company Atos have agreed at the SC17 supercomputing conference currently taking place in Denver, USA, to install the first module of the system. The third partner is the Munich-based software company ParTec. The new system is to be operated as a national high-performance computer within the framework of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS), to which the three data centers of the Jülich Research Centre (JSC), the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (LRZ) and Stuttgart University (HLRS) belong. GCS and its supercomputers are jointly supported and financed by the federal government and the three states in which GCS is headquartered. In addition, an expansion of the central Jülich storage system was agreed with the manufacturer Lenovo.

"The Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) is breaking new ground with its modular concept," explains Prof. Thomas Lippert, Director of the JSC. The first module of the successor of JUQEEN, which is now planned, is tailored to a wide range of very complex applications in simulation and data analysis. With a nominal peak performance of 12 petaflop/second – equivalent to 12 quadrillion computing operations per second – this first expansion stage will already be designed for twice as much computing power as its predecessor system, which has come of age. Within two years, the system is to be completed by a second module within a common network. This second module is then specially designed for applications that require the highest computing power.

The decision to choose Atos as the hardware supplier was made in a two-stage competitive procurement process of the research center. The module is to be installed in the first half of 2018 and is based on Atos' Sequana architecture. "A high integration density and efficient hot water cooling allow significant savings in operating costs," explains Dr. Michael Stephan, technical expert at the JSC for the system. "Unlike its predecessor, the new system uses hot water to cool the racks that can be much warmer than the normal ambient temperature. This means that it can be cooled directly with outside air and without the need to spend additional energy for cooling".

The supercomputer is developed in a co-design approach by the partners Atos, Forschungszentrum Jülich and ParTec. "As a leading manufacturer of supercomputer systems in Europe, we are particularly pleased to be taking this highly innovative path towards modular supercomputing with our partners," says Dr. Martin Matzke, SVP Big Data and Security of Atos Germany. "Our main contribution to this co-design is our new Sequana architecture, specifically designed to meet the unique technological requirements of exascale computing."

A new era of supercomputing

Modular supercomputing, an idea conceived by Dr. Lippert almost 20 years ago, was realised by JSC and ParTec in the EU-funded research projects DEEP and DEEP-ER together with many partners from research and industry. "Since 2010, our experts have been developing the software, which will in future create the union of several modules into a single system, " says Bernhard Frohwitter, CEO of ParTec. "Our goal is to provide the leading software for Exascale."

The JSC has recently shown that modular supercomputing actually works: With the expansion of JURECA (see press release dated November 13, 2017), a modular supercomputer with an innovative cluster booster architecture went into operation at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) for the first time worldwide. Now the next modular system is in preparation.

Universal tool for science

Supercomputers have become a universal tool for science. Simulations on supercomputers are indispensable for testing scientific models in different fields such as quantum physics, climate and neuroscience. At the same time, they allow insights into structure and behaviour of important building blocks of life, basic materials properties or chemical processes under extreme conditions, for example, which are not otherwise possible for physical-technical, financial and ethical reasons.

The Jülich Supercomputing Centre procures and operates the new system as a member of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS), the merger of the three national high-performance computing centres in Germany. The computing time is allocated to national and European projects via established peer review procedures. The GCS and the Forschungszentrum Jülich is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the ministries in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Expansion of the central storage system

Furthermore, an expansion of the central Jülich storage system is planned. Together with the manufacturer Lenovo, Forschungszentrum Jülich has agreed on an extension and partial renewal of the system from 20.3 to a total of 81.6 petabytes. The globally accessible JUST (Jülich Storage) storage platform provides high-performance storage for the supercomputers at the JSC. For instance, the system stores data from major Jülich large-scale projects such as the European Human Brain Project and the Jülich Brain Atlas, as well as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) – an antimatter detector installed on the International Space Station ISS.

The new JUST system will be based on Lenovo's "Distributed Storage Solution for IBM Spectrum Scale" (DSS-G). The bandwidth will more than double as a result of the upgrade, allowing access speeds of up to 500 GB/s.


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Tobias Schloesser
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