Tier 1 supercomputer for UGent is called Hortense


The newest supercomputer in Flanders, which is currently being built at Ghent University, will be given a name. Hortense refers to a French astronomer whose great contribution to science was initially ignored.

The 3.3 petaflops supercomputer that the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC) at the University of Ghent is building has a name. The system is called Hortense. That is the nickname of Nicole-Reine Lepaute: a French astronomer who lived from 1723 to 1788. Hortense worked his way into the history books by predicting the return of Halley’s Comet in 1759. She did this together with mathematician Alexis Clairaut, who was awarded the honor. Ultimately, her contribution was recognized. In her later life, Hortense also calculated the orbit of Venus and correctly predicted a solar eclipse.


With the supercomputer, the VSC wants to pay tribute to the French astronomer. Hortense was also a math prodigy, which makes the name completely appropriate. The HPC system should be operational by the end of this year. Hortense will initially receive approximately 44,000 CPU cores via AMD Epyc Rome 7J12 CPUs, spread across 336 nodes and 112 BullSequana X2410 blades. The supercomputer gets 97 TB of RAM along with 100 TB of flash storage and 4 PB of long-term storage. Furthermore, the system has 20 blades with Nvidia A100 accelerators on board. Hortense thus becomes a Tier-1 supercomputer. The 3.3 petaflops of computing power that the hardware must deliver is in principle sufficient for a place in the top 500 of the world’s fastest systems. Hortense is a lot more powerful than the 1 petaflops BrEniac computer in Leuven, but scores a lot lower than the leader of the Top 500: the Japanese Fugaku supercomputer with 415 petaflops.

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