Hortense is the name of UGent’s new supercomputer


The Tier1 supercomputer, which will be introduced at the University of Ghent at the end of this year, will be one of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. The arrival of Hortense was already announced at the beginning of the summer by Atos itself, which supplies the device. It is the Bullsequana XH200. Now the device also gets a call sign: Hortense.

This is a reference to the nickname of Nicole-Reine Lepaute, a woman who performed heavy astronomical calculations in the eighteenth century and accurately predicted the arrival of Comet Halley, among other things.

3,3 petaflops

The supercomputer will achieve peak performance of up to 3.3 petaflops, which equates to 3,300,000,000,000,000 operations per second. For this, it uses 44,000 CPU cores, 100 terabytes of RAM and 3 petabytes of storage capacity.

Hortense will be available for research for Flemish researchers from 2021. It is therefore not only reserved for researchers at UGent. Requesting this computer time is free, but must be done as part of a research project.

Adjust datacenter

The machine will be made and installed by Atos, and will subsequently fall under the responsibility of the HPC-UGent team. Hortense will be housed in the UGent data center on the De Sterre campus.

There is still work to be done before that happens. “The data center itself is large enough, but such a machine does require some adjustments. Hortense, for example, works with water cooling, so we have to install the necessary pipes,” says Ewald Pauwels, coordinator high performance computing at Ghent University. Pauwels cannot yet say exactly how big Hortense will be. “Supercomputers are getting smaller and it will be significantly smaller than our first Tier1 supercomputer from 2012. But we’re still talking about 8-10 racks.”

The project itself runs through the Flemish Supercomputing Center (VSC), which falls under the Scientific Research Fund (FWO). But for the financing of Tier1 supercomputers there is also support from the EWI department, which falls under the authority of Flemish Minister for Innovation Hilde Crevits.

In collaboration with Datanews

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