Andalusian science already has a new supercomputer that is among the top 5 in Spain

Velasco highlights the investment of almost three million made by the Board in the acquisition of ‘Hercules’, which will allow calculation operations to be carried out in a single day that would require more than two decades

The Ministry of Economic Transformation, Industry, Knowledge and Universities has already completed the installation of the new Hercules supercomputerof great power and high performance that will support your research to public universities and R&D centers based in the community.

His capacity for numerical calculation, being able to carry out operations in one day that would require more than two decades, places him among the five best in Spain in the academic and research field. This has been made clear during the presentation of this machine, in whose acquisition the Junta de Andalucía has invested almost three million euros, as highlighted by the director Rogelio Velasco, who has stressed that this infrastructure constitutes a further step in the reinforcement and impulse of the Junta to Andalusian R&D.

Velasco has assured that “there will be many researchers from all scientific fields who will take advantage of the large number of calculation and simulation programs that this cutting-edge infrastructure can make work.” According to the features disclosed, this supercomputer will allow processes to be accelerated in an extraordinary way, since analyzes and simulations will be achieved in a matter of hours that would take months if they were carried out with other types of methods or to which the human intellect would not reach. by itself.

In his opinion, supercomputing resources and intensive calculation constitute “an essential asset” to accelerate the advancement of research and innovation in a country or a community. “With these facilities it is possible to support the most advanced lines of R&D, generate knowledge around different disciplines and promote technology transfer and industrial innovation, all essential factors closely linked to business competitiveness and, therefore, to economic development. ”, he pointed out.

The equipment, which is located in Seville at the Andalusian Scientific Computer Center (CICA), has a RAM memory of 47.5 terabytes (47,500 GB), a storage capacity of 1,000 terabytes (1 petabyte) and a computing power which is estimated at 855 teraflops, equivalent to 855 billion floating point operations per second (flops), which is the parameter used to measure the performance of this type of machine. That could be like nearly 4,000 mid-range personal computers working at the same time.

In addition, it is made up of 232 computing nodes with 11,136 state-of-the-art processing cores.

ATOS, a leading supercomputing company in Spain and Europe, has been in charge of the purchase, transfer, assembly and installation of this technological equipment, which weighs 3,657 kilograms and occupies an area of ​​almost 16 square meters. Five kilometers of cabling have been needed for its installation.

With all these technical features, Andalusia will significantly improve its current calculation and storage capacity, concentrated in similar systems at the universities of Granada and Malaga. In addition, this equipment will improve the performance of the current supercomputer that CICA has by more than 99%, whose characteristics are specified in 64 computing nodes with 656 cores and a performance of 6.2 teraflops and 18 terabytes of storage.

The new technological endowment will allow the management of a large number of variables and operations and carry out all kinds of simulations, with almost endless possibilities, in areas of knowledge such as genetics, nuclear physics, theoretical chemistry, molecular biology and the study of nanomaterials. Also in other fields such as the calculation of structures, software engineering or artificial intelligence, among others.

These types of machines are therefore crucial in scientific research and also in industry to analyze large amounts of information, detect patterns and generate predictions through artificial intelligence. Its two great areas of application are the exhaustive analysis of objects through simulation mechanisms, and the analysis of large amounts of data.

RCIA Network Enhancement

In addition to this advance in the field of supercomputing, the Minister of Economic Transformation has also referred to the renovation and expansion that his department is currently promoting of the RICA (Scientific Computer Network of Andalusia) communication network. This infrastructure, through a mesh of 3,100 kilometers of fiber optics and ten nodes or Points of Presence (PdP), interconnects the ten public universities and 45 centers and organizations also of a public nature that carry out their work in Andalusia.

This specialized support faces a considerable improvement in its benefits this year, which will make it possible to renew the ten routers it has, which have a size that multiplies by two digits those installed for domestic use and reach a weight of more than 100 kilos each. This update will allow the bandwidth of universities and research centers to be multiplied by up to ten, since the computer mesh will go from connection interfaces of ten gigabits per second, scalable up to 40, to have a capacity of up to 100 gigabits per second. second.

With this increase in flow, the volume of data that can be transmitted simultaneously will increase, which would be equivalent to sending up to 4,000 ultra-high definition videos at the same time. The 2,129 research groups attached to academic institutions and research infrastructures as relevant and unique as the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, based in Granada, or the Calar Alto Observatory, in Almería, will benefit from this; as well as the CSIC centers.

The project also contemplates the deployment of two new fiber optic connectivity extensions; the first between the node installed at the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) and the point located at CicCartuja, the CSIC center that is based in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park. And the second will unite CicCartuja with the International University of Andalusia (UNIA).

360 million in R&D

Velasco has remarked that the investment in this type of actions responds to the commitment of the Board with Andalusian R&D, to which since the beginning of the legislature an amount of 360 million has been allocated through various calls for aid.

“We know that investing in knowledge is investing in progress, hence our support for cutting-edge research and technological innovation”, he has had an impact, adding that “this support is confirmed by the latest INE data referring to R&D spending” . According to this statistic, Andalusia exceeded 1,627 million euros in 2020, which represents an increase of 5.8% compared to the previous year, this being the largest increase recorded in the last decade and the highest increase achieved in the rest of Spanish regions.

On the other hand, he explained that, along with this new supercomputing cluster, his department is supporting “other strategic initiatives that reinforce the innovative ecosystem and that will translate into greater knowledge transfer.” Among the examples mentioned, he has referred to the UAVs and Urban Air Mobility Innovation Center, the IFMIF-DONES international particle accelerator project or the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence in Granada. Also on this list are the CEUS project in Huelva or the Ricardo Valle Innovation Institute (Innova IRV) in Malaga.

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