High-performance computer HelixSupercomputer for Cutting-Edge Research

5 September 2022

High-performance computer Helix goes on stream at Heidelberg University

A new high-performance computer has started operating at Heidelberg University in the form of “bwForCluster Helix”. It is primarily intended for use in data- and computation-intensive research projects in the life sciences, natural sciences and computational humanities. Significantly more powerful than its predecessor and operated at the University Computing Centre (URZ), Helix is a state service and available to all scientists at Baden-Württemberg universities, higher education institutions and research facilities.

Helix is available in particular for research in structural and systems biology, medicine, materials sciences and computational humanities. The new supercomputer can be used to model complex systems and analyse large quantities of raw data at high speed. It is equipped with 20,000 processor cores and about 200 graphic processors and has a main memory of approximately 100 terabytes. A direct link to the state service SDS@hd – a large-scale scientific data storage facility also operated at the URZ – enables the users to work across systems. That is an efficient way of organising the generation, analysis and storage of large quantities of research data.

“With Helix we offer researchers all over the country a high-performance platform,” says Prof. Dr Vincent Heuveline, Executive Director of the University Computing Centre of Ruperto Carola. “The new high performance computer is an essential and powerful tool for cutting-edge research and will help us to better understand the great challenges of our time and to find solutions for them.” Helix replaces the previous inter-site computer system “bwForCluster MLS&WISO” and is, according to Prof. Heuveline, completely based at the URZ. The users across the state will be supported via existing competence centres for high-performance computing. In these centres, members of different university computing centres in Baden-Württemberg cooperate; one of them is operated by the Heidelberg University Computer Centre in cooperation with the Mannheim University IT department.

The supercomputer is part of the bwHPC strategy of the State of Baden-Württemberg, which makes high-performance computing systems available at five university locations for research in different subject areas, as well as for general purposes and for teaching. Helix was established at a total cost of approximately five million euros and financed by the German Research Foundation, the Baden-Württemberg science ministry and Heidelberg University.