Extension to University Computing Centre
26 July 2013
Heidelberg University is getting a new “supercomputer”, which is a network of several high-powered computers. The high-performance computing cluster costs five million euros and is being financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the state of Baden-Württemberg, and the university itself. As a prerequisite for this, the University Computing Centre (URZ) and the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing, together with the Computing Centre of Mannheim University, made a grant application to the DFG, which its Referee Committee and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science approved. In addition, the Finance and Economics Affairs Committee of the Baden-Württemberg parliament approved a comprehensive extension of the area available to the URZ. Construction will cost eight million euros.
“If we want to support excellent research we need excellent infrastructure in information technology”, says Prof. Dr. Vincent Heuveline, who took over as the new director of Heidelberg’s University Computing Centre in May this year. “The implementation of the high-performance computing cluster and the building extension are two important measures with which the Heidelberg’s University Computing Centre can strategically position itself on the German scientific scene as one of the leading centres of IT excellence.”
The extension for the University Computing Centre is being cofinanced by the state of Baden-Württemberg and Heidelberg University to the tune of, respectively, six million euros and two million euros. It will provide space for three new machine rooms. 160 square metres alone will be devoted to decentralised institute clusters and servers. The new supercomputer will be accommodated in a new room of its own. The high-performance computing cluster approved by the DGF is to be an integral part of a network for high-performance computing run by several universities in Baden-Württemberg. As a centre of excellence for high-performance computing (HPC), the so-called bwForCluster will have several thousand processor cores, It will be used, in particular, in the area of life sciences, economics, social sciences and methodology development. “That way it will be possible to run a number of existing research projects more efficiently and initiate new projects requiring a lot of computing”, says Prof. Heuveline.
The new machine rooms will be equipped according to the highest technical standards and will be fail-safe, access-safe and secured against break-ins. The University Computing Centre is going to use a new cooling system developed at the Centre for Scientific Computing of Frankfurt’s Goethe University. According to Prof. Heuveline, this innovative cooling technology will entail “enormous energy savings”, so that the Computing Centre can economise an amount in the six-figure range each year. “That will make the Heidelberg University Computing Centre a pioneer in IT energy efficiency all over the state. At the federal level, too, it will be one of the first facilities to operate with such low resource consumption”, states the URZ Director.