Supercomputers strengthening Germany's research landscape
Next to theory and experiment, the simulations produced by these computers have become the third pillar of science, particularly in areas such as health, energy, climate protection, and mobility research. Expansion of supercomputers in Germany continues: After the 2009 launch of "JUGENE" in Jülich, the 2012 launch of "HERMIT" in Stuttgart and SuperMUC in Garching, now JUQUEEN has been launched in Jülich. It is a worldwide leader in computational power and energy efficiency and is the most powerful supercomputer in Europe.
High-performance computers and networks
Compared to other European countries, Germany has an excellent computer infrastructure for science and technology. The world of supercomputing is in constant flux, and German research centres have repeatedly been at the cutting edge of technology. The Research Centre Jülich came second in a list of the world's 500 fastest computers in November 2007. On 22 February 2008, JUGENE - the world's fastest civilian computer at the time, capable of 167 billion calculations per second - was officially launched in Jülich.
Continuous efforts are being made to further develop Germany's supercomputing capabilities: Europe's first petaflop computer was launched at the Research Centre Jülich on 26 May 2009. The computer can carry out a trillion floating-point calculations per second, which made it Europe's fastest computer at the time. It also ranked third in the list of the world's fastest computers. Two other supercomputers - one for fusion research and one for the JuRoPA project (Jülich Research on Petaflop Architectures) - were launched at the same time. These two computers are financed through programme funds of the Helmholtz Association and by the European Union. On 24 February 2012, supercomputer HERMIT was launched in Stuttgart. IT is the fastest industrial supercomputer in the world.
With the July 2012 launch of SuperMUC in Garching, Germany's science landscape includes Europe's fastest supercomputer at the time, reaching a speed of three petaflops - or three trillion floating-point calculations per second. In 2012, it was the fourth fastest computer worldwide, and it has set new milestones in energy efficiency with its innovative cooling technology.
According to the list of the world's fastest supercomputers (as of June 2012), 20 of the world's 500 fastest computers are in Germany, and two of those rank in the Top 10.
Supercomputers have different architectures which are specifically tailored to different application priorities. This means that Germany's computing capacities are suited to a wide range of research activities in different disciplines. In order for Germany to remain internationally competitive in science and research, it is becoming increasingly important to forge a strategic alliance between the various supercomputing centres.
Supercomputer Cray XE6 Hermit © B. Lehner/ HLRS
The foundation of this alliance is a joint initiative of the BMBF together with the science ministries of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and North Rhine-Westphalia, which concluded an agreement to create an alliance between the supercomputing centres in Jülich, Munich/Garching, and Stuttgart. The three centres jointly founded the Gauß Centre for Supercomputing on 13 April 2007. Up to 400 million euros are being provided to gradually increase Germany's supercomputing capacity until 2017 - half by the Federal Government and half by the three Länder. After JUGENE in Jülich and HERMIT in Stuttgart, the July 2012 launch of SuperMUC in Garching is the third installation of this alliance. The inauguration was attended by Federal Research Minister Annette Schaven and Bavarian State Minister of Sciences, Research and the Arts Wolfgang Heubisch.
European Computer Network PRACE
The participants at the signing of the PRACE MoU
The networking initiated by Germany is also being pursued at EU level. The Gauß Centre for Supercomputing forms the basis of the joint involvement of German supercomputer centres in efforts to build up an internationally leading European supercomputing centre at different European locations.
Together with representatives from 11 European countries and the EU Commission, they formed a joint initiative to pool supercomputing capacities. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the establishment of the supercomputing initiative "Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe" (PRACE), which had been promoted by the BMBF.
This supercomputer network gives scientists in Europe excellent access to high-performance computing. The necessary funds for investments and operation, amounting to about 400 million euros over five years, were provided by the countries in which the supercomputing centres are located. A project funded by the EU, coordinated by Germany and featuring partners from 24 countries has been supporting the establishment and operation of the network since 1 January 2008. After a preparatory phase, PRACE was officially founded in late 2010 and has already started providing computing time to European scientists at its supercomputers.
From science networks to grid computing
Germany has one of the world's best science networks. We want to further increase Germany's attractiveness as a research location through an innovative infrastructure for dispersed, cooperative scientific work in communication networks and through the efficient supply of information. To this end, relevant scientific information is being processed and made available in the form of adequate access to information and a digital library. The objective is to optimize knowledge transfer as a driver of innovation.
The second focus is the move towards grid computing and the technological and economic challenges associated with it. The idea is to tap the enormous application potential of grid technology by combining state-financed and pioneering research infrastructure with specific business models of private-sector partners at an early stage. High-performance networks - such as the gigabit science network of the Deutsches Forschungsnetz (DFN) - will develop into comprehensive scientific working environments. They will support the entire research process, from the operation of measuring devices in collaborating laboratories across the world to the management of research data to the documentation and publication of the results. In order to make the use of such applications easy and unbureaucratic in the future, it will be necessary to develop new concepts to connect data storage devices, computers and networks. These are known as grid solutions. The digitalization of services and digital manufacturing/digital factory offer special economic opportunities for new services, faster and more flexible production cycles and thus new growth in these markets, which have dynamic growth potential.
New grid-based, collaborative and networked forms of international scientific cooperation can be expected to lead to revolutionary changes. The new challenge consists in creating next-generation information systems which are application-oriented. Suitable IT and information infrastructures are a prerequisite for implementing new forms of scientific work in self-organizing structures.
The aim is to develop virtual knowledge environments in which users can access comprehensive databases, visualizations and all kinds of scientific information in a dynamic manner. Fundamental challenges need to be addressed in Germany to develop a supply structure for scientific information. The rapid transfer of research results and the processing and availability of relevant scientific information are important factors for accelerating the transfer of knowledge and thus drivers of innovation. Alongside the conventional publication of scientific results in the form of a product, the entire process of generating, processing, disseminating and archiving knowledge will change in a fundamental way. New dynamic forms of scientific work require innovative information structures and services for scientific communication, information and publication.