Establishing a supercomputer center in Maribor

Monday, January 07, 2019
The University of Maribor and partners are planning to establish a national supercomputer center whose performance will be globally comparable. Launch is planned for 2020.
“This is a big deal for the eastern region and Maribor, bringing numerous multiplicative effects,” said the vice-dean for scientific and research activity, Zoran Ren, to the Slovene Press Agency. He is convinced that strengthening computer capabilities will importantly contribute not only to the development of the supercomputer profession and research in many scientific areas, but will also give a boost to the economy. “With such a supercomputer system, we will contribute, for example, to more exact predictions of weather phenomena, simulations of societal phenomena, optimization of individual products, simulations of particle physics, development of crypto technologies, deep learning, artificial intelligence and similar. Until now, we had to carry out more demanding calculations by using supercomputer systems abroad,” he explained.
They joined forces with the Institute of Information Science (IZUM) and the Faculty of Information Studies in Novo mesto (FIŠ). “Currently the most capable supercomputer in Slovenia has capability of around 38 teraFLOP/s and is owned by a private company. Within the HPC RIVR project, we will establish a supercomputer capable of at least 1.5 petaFLOP/s with a data field of capability of at least 22 PB. If we set up this computer today, it would be the 23rd most capable in Europe and 90th in the world,” he added.

First testing the equipment
The project is estimated at 20 million euros, from which 16.5 million euros would go towards the purchase of highly capable computer equipment. The super computer will be installed in the IZUM building in Maribor, which has suitable facilities and the necessary technological infrastructure, since it was recently comprehensively renovated and upgraded. “For IZUM, this is a new challenge, because they will host a supercomputer of national importance and a digital repository of scientific data in Slovenia, which in the long term presents a significant change in the way they work,” explained Ren.
Over the next few months, the Computer center of the University of Maribor will first establish a prototype supercomputer with capability of 220 teraFLOP/s, meant to help develop and test suitable, mostly software, solutions for the working of the central supercomputer. They don’t wish to hurry with the buying of equipment for a central supercomputer system, because the tech development in this field is very fast.

Supercomputer in Nova Gorica
“The supercomputer will have very good capabilities considering the invested resources, because the system won’t be bought ready-made, but will instead be created based on our own architectural design. In the past, when we separately developed smaller supercomputer systems with limited resources, we obtained the necessary knowledge, so we dare to do this. We will build a supercomputer system that will equally address highly demanding scientific calculations, namely a large amount of mathematical operations, as well as a big number of logical operations, which are necessary when analysing large databases,” explained Ren.

With the project, 30 new development engineer jobs at the UM, IZUM and FIŠ are planned. The new supercomputer system will work based on open-access principle and will be primarily intended for use by researchers at public research institutions, but to a smaller extent also external users, for example companies. “Some institutions will permanently buy out a certain share of the supercomputer’s capabilities for their own needs, because their needs for such capabilities are constantly growing,” said Ren.

Read the full article on (in Slovene).

Photo: © IZUM