In the TOP500 list of the world's fastest computers published today, Jülich's JUGENE computer was able to defend its position as Europe's fastest computer. Overall, it took a good sixth place - beaten only by 5 supercomputers from the US. Jülich computer scientists are making long-term plans to secure their place in the top group.
"We want JUGENE and its successors to continue to play in the big league", says Prof. Thomas Lippert, Head of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. "After all, the requirements of the large number of groups who use our computing facilities are continuously growing." About 200 research groups from all over Europe use the Jülich supercomputers as tools in order to achieve new insights for their work. The research topics range from the formation of galaxies to protein folding and improved materials.
In order to continue to keep up with demand for computing time, the dual concept of Forschungszentrum Jülich - a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres - will be further expanded. On the one hand, computers of the highest performance class such as JUGENE (Jülich Blue Gene) will be available for applications requiring the greatest number-crunching power. On the other hand, supercomputers with a high data throughput such as JUMP (Jülich Multi-Processor) will be used for data-intensive applications such as climate research. "We are seeking to establish contacts with the IT industry at an early stage for this further development", adds Lippert. "In this way, we will be able to ensure that user requirements are considered in hardware developments, and, vice versa, that existing algorithms are adapted to the benefits brought by coming architectures."
At the moment, the Jülich computer scientists are planning to develop their dual concept as follows. A cluster computer for data-intensive applications known as JuRoPA (Jülich Research on Petaflop/s Architectures) will be put into operation by early 2009 and will replace the JUMP computer. It will incorporate Xeon processors from Intel and a fast network from Quadrics. The connection of about 16,000 processors will enable the computer to achieve a power of more than 200 teraflop/s.
In the medium term, JUGENE is scheduled to be replaced by a computer capable of breaking the 1 petaflop/s barrier. A decision has not yet been taken on the chip architecture. "From users we have received very positive feedback on JUGENE for the Blue Gene /P system", says Lippert. JUGENE was officially put into operation in February and has already demonstrated that it can be used for a wide range of research topics.
"At the same time, we are of course also testing the cell technology as applied in the new front runner of the TOP500 list, Roadrunner", adds Lippert. At the beginning of June, an 8 teraflop/s prototype called JUICEnext was installed in Jülich. It is based on 70 IBM PowerXCell 8i processors and two fast networks - one based on Infiniband and one on Ethernet. "Even this small system will help us to discover the most effective way forward for petaflop/s computing in Germany".
Peter Schäfer | idw
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