SARA selects Bull for delivery of new petascale national supercomputer

Amsterdam, 14-11-2012 — / — Today, SARA and Bull announce that they have signed an agreement for the delivery of the new national supercomputer by Bull. The new system, which will be operational in the first half of 2013, replaces the current IBM system Huygens at SARA. In the coming years, science and business in the Netherlands can make use of a state-of-the-art and cost effective supercomputer, allowing them to continue performing advanced research in the future. The investment for the new system is made possible by SURF, with contributions from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.

Bull was selected as supplier of the new supercomputer by means of a European tender procedure. In 2011, the preparations for the replacement started. Via interviews and a workshop SARA investigated the demands and needs of the end users. The main criteria for the selection of the new system were a performance benchmark with key user applications, efficient energy utilization and cooling, a user-friendly environment and opportunities for flexible, on-demand growth. SURF, the Netherlands eScience Center and NWO (via the Committee for Scientific Use of Supercomputers) were closely involved in the selection process.

On-demand growth

Based on the increasing demands of the users of the system and in order to provide the most cost-effective computing capacity, SARA has chosen a supercomputer that can grow on demand with these needs. It is expected that by mid-2013, the system will provide approximately 250 TeraFlop/s peak performance. This performance is a 4-fold increase compared to the capacity of the current system. In the second half of 2014, the system will be upgraded and extended and break the PetaFlop/s limit.

The cooling of the new Bull system uses the latest cooling technology based on special liquid-cooled compute servers. Due to the high temperature of the liquid (initial to 35 degrees Celsius), it is possible to make use of “free cooling” (passive cooling) almost year-round. Since temperatures in the Netherlands are rarely above 30 degrees Celsius, hardly any mechanical cooling is expected to be needed, which makes the Bull system extremely sustainable. This leads to a considerable savings in energy costs for cooling and will thereby reduce CO2 emissions. This approach enables permanently efficient free cooling.

Powerful and green

Dr. Ir. Anwar Osseyran, Director SARA: “We are very enthusiastic about the new system and our collaboration with Bull. Our on-demand strategy allows us to offer cost-effective capacity tailored to the needs of the Dutch researchers. With the new generation Intel Xeon chips, combined with the latest hot water cooling technology of Bull, we not only have one of the most powerful, but also one of the greenest computer systems in the Netherlands. The system is a new impulse for the Dutch knowledge economy. Together with Bull as technology and business partner, we work on strengthening the competitive position of the Netherlands in science as well as in business.”

“We are very excited about the choice of SARA,” says Dick Fens, CEO of Bull in the Netherlands. “For the second time in a short period, a renowned Dutch organization has opted for the advanced Bull technology. With the new Bull supercomputer, Dutch researchers gain access to our new generation bullx technology to carry out high-quality research. We are proud of our contribution to the Dutch knowledge economy.”

Replacement of Huygens

The new Bull system replaces the current national supercomputer Huygens, which has been in use since August 2008 and has reached the end of its life cycle. The national supercomputer is used for research in various areas including clean energy, climate change, water management, noise reduction and improvement of medical treatments. SARA has placed the replacement process of Huygens under the responsibility of SURF. With the implementation of the master plan of ICTRegie of December 2008 on establishing the ICT infrastructure for scientific research, per 2012 SURF will be responsible for structural funding of the establishment of a national ICT research infrastructure. The national supercomputer is part of this infrastructure. On 1 January 2013, SARA merges with SURF and will, from a budgetary and organizational perspective, be integrated into the national structure. SARA will be a new operating division under SURF and given a new name: SURFsara.

About SARA

SARA supports researchers in the Netherlands and works closely with the academic community and industry. For over 40 years SARA provides an integrated ICT research infrastructure including expertise, services and support in the field of high performance computing, data storage, visualization, networking, cloud and Big Data and develops innovative ICT solutions.

About Bull

Bull is a leader in secure mission-critical digital systems. The Group is dedicated to developing and implementing solutions where computing power and security serve to optimize its customers’ information systems, to support their business.

Bull operates in high added-value markets including computer simulation, Cloud computing and ‘computing power plants’, outsourcing and security.

Currently Bull employs around 9,000 people across more than 50 countries, with over 700 staff totally focused on R&D. In 2011, Bull recorded revenues of €1.3 billion.

For more information visit:

Barbara Coumaros
5 Bd Gallieni – 92445 Issy Les moulineaux Cedex – France
Phone: +33 6 85 52 84 84

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