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Jülich’s Supercomputer the New Number One in Europe

New supercomputer goes into operation at Research Centre Jülich

[16. Februar 2004]

Jülich, 16 February 2004 - Environmental researchers do it, material scientists do it, even elementary particles physicists do it. They use the supercomputer at Research Centre Jülich. Jülich scientists and 100 research groups from all over Germany can now calculate even faster than before how a pollutant migrates through the soil or hydrogen passes through a fuel cell. All this can be done by the new supercomputer put into operation today by Research Centre Jülich. The IBM computer can perform almost nine trillion - nine thousand billion - arithmetic operations per second and is thus Europe's fastest supercomputer. The new computer is also world class: it takes 6th place among the civilian supercomputers.

How do black holes originate? How do pollutants propagate in groundwater? How does magnetism function on the nanoscale? How do the plates move that form the surface of our earth? Scientists answer such questions with the aid of mathematical models that they implement on computers. Since the scenarios are very complex they need enormous computing capacity. Only by using a supercomputer are scientists therefore able to calculate in a reasonable time how tectonic plates rub against each other or how heavy stars at the centre of a galaxy fuse into a black hole.

"Scientists used to be dependent on experiment and theory alone in order to achieve their results. Scientific computing has revolutionized their work", says Dr Thomas Lippert, head of the Central Institute for Applied Mathematics (ZAM) at Research Centre Jülich. "Scientists have to use computer simulations whenever an experiment would be too complex or a theory cannot be calculated with pencil and paper. They find ideal conditions for such work at the supercomputer in Jülich."

"Scientific computing has a long tradition at Jülich", Prof. Joachim Treusch, Chairman of the Research Centre's Board of Directors, commented at the inauguration. "With the new supercomputer, Jülich has become the highest-performing scientific computer centre in Europe." Together with the Chairman of the Research Centre's Supervisory Board, Dr Hermann Schunck from the Federal Research Ministry, Treusch started a "computing competition" between the present and the new Jülich supercomputer. By means of an example from environmental research, it became obvious that the new supercomputer had more than ten times the computing power of the present computer. The simulation showed how pollutants propagate in groundwater. Schunk's words of welcome were seconded by Dr Waltraud Kreutz-Gers from the Science Ministry of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and Francis Kuhlen, Vice President of IBM.

The new IBM supercomputer at the Research Centre consists of 41 computer nodes with a total of 1312 processors and thus achieves a peak performance of almost nine teraflops. The new computer has an unusually large working memory of 5.2 terabytes. A fast network - known as the high-performance switch - combines the 41 nodes into a uniform overall system. This is what makes it a supercomputer. The Jülich IBM computer is the first to use this technology on such a scale.

Half of the computing capacity of the new Jülich supercomputer will be used by scientists from the Research Centre and from industry, the other half will be allocated by the John von Neumann Institute for Computing (NIC) to projects from science and research throughout Germany. NIC was founded in 1998 by Research Centre Jülich and the German Electron Synchrotron Foundation (DESY). There are currently about 100 projects at universities and research establishments in Germany that make use of the supercomputer at Jülich. The supercomputer, together with the necessary infrastructure such as software, data storage and networks, is operated by the Jülich Central Institute for Applied Mathematics (ZAM).

Information on Research Centre Jülich:
Research Centre Jülich is the largest interdisciplinary research centre in Europe with an annual budget of € 360 million (including special tasks) and a staff of 4200 (as of 2003). The company partners of "Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH" are the Federal Republic of Germany (90%) and the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (10%). The Research Centre, founded in 1956, is one of the 15 members of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the largest science organization in Germany. In Jülich, scientists from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and the engineering sciences work together on an interdisciplinary basis in the fields of matter, energy, information, life and the environment. The work concerns both long-term contributions in basic research for science and technology as well as concrete technological applications for industry.

Press Contact:

Dr. Renée Dillinger
Science Journalist
Forschungszentrum Jülich
52425 Jülich, Germany
Tel. ++ 49 2461 61-4771, Fax ++49 2461 61-4666

Mechthild Hexamer
Head of the Public Relations Department
Press Officer
Tel. ++49 2461 61-4661, Fax ++49 2461 61-4666


Picture can be downloaded as jpg-file here

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View of the new supercomputer in the specially constructed machine room.

Foto: Forschungszentrum Jülich


Foto: Forschungszentrum Jülich

View of the new supercomputer in the specially constructed machine room .

Picture can be downloaded as jpg-file here

(1.425 KB)


Foto: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Prof. Joachim Treusch during the inauguration of the Supercomputer.

Picture can be downloaded as jpg-file here

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