heiCOMACSNew Heidelberg Centre for High-Performance Computing

22 July 2021

Start of construction projects for heiCOMACS and renovation of the computing centre

The Heidelberg Collaboratory for Mathematical and Computational Sciences, or heiCOMACS, will be a new, ultramodern research building at Heidelberg University for hardware-aware computing at the intersection of new hardware technologies, mathematical methods development, energy-efficient computing and high-performance computing. With the approval from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Finance, the necessary renovations to building INF 294, the former applied mathematics facility, on the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus can begin. At the same time, the nearby University Computing Centre (URZ) will be thoroughly refurbished. Both institutions are working towards future joint research activities and close collaboration. The construction projects are scheduled for completion in 2023.

Forschungsbau heiCOMACS

“With the construction of heiCOMACS, Heidelberg University is setting a precedent for a forward-looking infrastructure that supports joint research projects across disciplines and institutional boundaries, thereby making a vital contribution to greater interdisciplinary networking,” states Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University.

An ultramodern research building for hardware-aware computing in data-intensive disciplines like the life sciences, chemistry, physics, and the digital humanities, heiCOMACS will feature approximately 2,200 square metres of usable area. It will house server rooms, electronics and graphics laboratories as well as a visualisation lab. Premises will also be provided for databased simulation and electro-technical laboratory areas to develop and optimise special hardware. The total investment amounts to 16 million euros, with two million funded by Heidelberg University. Support from the Klaus Tschira Foundation for the research facility is considerable.

Thanks to innovative heating and cooling management, operating heiCOMACS will be particularly energy-efficient and climate-friendly. It will be equipped with a photovoltaic system and will benefit from the environmentally friendly energy supply on the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus, which is based on the principle of trigeneration. Among other things, the waste heat from the gas turbine at the on-site cogeneration plant will be used in combination with two absorption chillers to supply the campus with locally generated heating and cooling. An additional cold storage system helps cover campus-wide cooling requirements during peak periods.

Along with the general renovation of the Heidelberg University Computing Centre, building INF 293 will be made barrier-free, any contaminants removed, and fire protection updated. Like heiCOMACS, the URZ will also be connected to the environmentally friendly cooling and heating supply grid at the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus. “This will enable especially resource-conserving operations in future. With the environmental certification that the University Computing Centre will receive as part of the energy overhaul process, we are clearly positioning ourselves for a sustainable and climate-friendly infrastructure. And the innovative activities of heiCOMACS will be crucial especially in the field of energy-efficient computing,” explains Managing Director Prof. Dr Vincent Heuveline. The state of Baden- Württemberg is providing 15 million euros for the overall refurbishment of the computing centre.