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Fastest Civil Supercomputer in the World Officially Unveiled in Jülich

Milestone for German and European Computer-Assisted Research

[22. Februar 2008]

Pictures (german)

Jülich, 22 February 2008 - An official ceremony today marked the inauguration of the fastest civil supercomputer in the world at the moment. The go-ahead was given by Prime Minister Jürgen Rüttgers together with State Secretary Thomas Rachel. The computer, known as JUGENE, performs around 167 trillion mathematical calculations per second and is Europe's fastest supercomputer. In the current global ranking list, the TOP500, it holds second place.

"Science and industry need computing power of the highest quality - on the one hand, to conduct pioneering research, and on the other, to create innovations", said Prof. Achim Bachem, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Research Centre Jülich. "With JUGENE, we have now set another milestone in Jülich for cutting-edge research. We will map out the next few stages together with our partners in the German Gauss Centre for Supercomputing and create long-term competitive supercomputing infrastructures in Europe." At the impetus of the Research Centre and the Gauss Centre, fourteen countries have come together in an initiative known as PRACE and they are currently drawing up concepts for coming European supercomputer generations.

Computer simulations are a key technology for science and they have established themselves on an equal footing with theoretical and experimental research. The supercomputer has proven itself to be a flexible and powerful tool when complex problems have to be solved. Researchers from all fields of study use supercomputers to try to explain how galaxies are formed, how semiconductors function, how proteins fold in cells, or how airplane wings behave.

"Supercomputer users benefit from dedicated subject-specific support in Jülich", said Thomas Lippert, Director of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. His approx. 120 members of staff do not just ensure that JUGENE is ready for use; they also provide information on all aspects of the simulation sciences. In what are known as simulation laboratories, for example, scientific simulation know-how is provided for the topics of plasma physics, biology, Earth system science and the nanosciences. "External groups can make use of our know-how through cooperations and can therefore conduct their calculations and research in a highly efficient manner", explained Lippert.

JUGENE is currently the most powerful computer of the new Blue Gene/P series manufactured by IBM with a measured performance (Rmax) of over 167 teraflops (trillion mathematical calculations per second). In Jülich, more than 65,000 processors are in operation connected through an extremely powerful communication network. They are compact and energy-efficient and housed in sixteen racks, each around the size of a telephone booth. In addition to Research Centre Jülich, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Helmholtz Association, of which Research Centre Jülich is a member, were also involved in the acquisition of the supercomputer JUGENE.

"The commitment shown by Research Centre Jülich in the field of supercomputing has proven to be beneficial in many ways", said Martin Jetter, CEO of IBM Germany. "The public authorities have set a precedent for Germany as a location for research and development." On the cooperation with Jülich, Jetter said: "Our complementary perspectives in supercomputing allow us to work together towards realising the goal of developing the most powerful effective compact computers."

JUGENE is housed in the large computer room at Research Centre Jülich where its brothers JUMP and JUBL are also kept. The three computers complement each other to such an extent that every scientific simulation can make use of a suitable tool. The Jülich supercomputers are used for calculations by around 200 European research groups. At Research Centre Jülich, scientists from all disciplines - from materials science and particle physics to medicine and environmental science - are afforded the opportunity to request computing time. An independent panel of experts allocate computing time to the best projects. The Jülich computers can be used by researchers from all over Europe, particularly by researchers from RWTH Aachen University within the framework of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance "JARA". Also the newly founded joint German Research School for Simulation Scienceswill profit from JUGENE.

Pictures and information in the Jülich supercomputing portal
Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS)

Examples of research on the Jülich supercomputers: &cmd=show&mid=456

Research topics on the Jülich supercomputers:

  • Pollutants in the soil
  • Magma in the Earth's core
  • Chemical reactions in the atmosphere
  • Galaxies and the formation of stars
  • Polymers in solutions
  • Lasers and particle physics
  • Protein folding in cells
  • Biological membranes
  • Aviation and automotive engineering
  • Fire protection and evacuation scenarios

Specifications of the Jülich supercomputer JUGENE:

  • Architecture: IBM Blue Gene/P
  • Performance, theoretical: 223 teraflops
  • Performance, measured: 167 teraflops
  • Processors: 65 536
  • Type of processors: Power PC 450
  • Frequency: 850 megahertz
  • Main memory: 32 terabytes
  • Storage bandwidth: 13.6 GB/s
  • Local network bandwidth: 5.1 GB/s
  • Network latency: 160 nanoseconds
  • Electric power: 560 kW


Press contact:

Kosta Schinarakis,
Tel. 49 2461 61-4771