New Supercomputer for Research

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Heidelberg University is getting a new supercomputer. Its construction is being financed with a total of around five million euros by the German Research Foundation, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts as well as the university itself. The "bwForCluster Helix" high-performance computing system will be used particularly in the life and natural sciences as well as the computational humanities. Run by the University Computing Centre (URZ), Helix will be available to researchers at universities and institutions throughout the state of Baden-Württemberg. Users will receive support from established supercomputing competence centres, in which members of different university computing centres across the state work together - one of which is run by the URZ in cooperation with University IT Mannheim.

"In supercomputing, Baden-Württemberg is a leader in Europe and enjoys the best international connections," states Science Minister Theresia Bauer. "Heidelberg University makes a significant contribution to this endeavour. The new computer will advance top computational research here and offer the best conditions for researchers across all disciplines. Ultimately, all of society will benefit from the discoveries."

The new supercomputer is replacing the cross-institutional "bwForCluster MLS&WISO" computer system. "Unlike its predecessor, the Helix high-performance computing system will be located solely at Ruperto Carola," explains Vincent Heuveline, Director of the University Computing Centre. "This will give us greater homogeneity with respect to the design of the high-speed network and save hardware costs." Helix will be linked to the so-called Large Scale Data Facility - a storage system specifically designed for data-intensive research with a usable capacity of more than ten petabytes. The precise coordination of data retention, data management and computing capacity will make cross-system collaboration easier for researchers.

The Helix high-performance computing system will be used particularly in the fields of structural and systems biology, medicine, and the material sciences as well as in the computational humanities. The new supercomputer will help to model complex systems and run calculations using methods of numerical simulation and "intelligently" analyse large quantities of raw data at high speed. "In many research disciplines, supercomputers have become the core catalysts of new knowledge. They help make the complex tangible and understandable and models highly precise and sophisticated," adds Prof. Heuveline. Areas of application include simulating physiological processes like cardiac and lung functions, generating innovative materials, calculating protein structures, analysing language, and automatically evaluating digitised historical documents.

The "bwForCluster Helix" is part of the high-performance computing strategy of the state of Baden-Württemberg, which is installing supercomputers at five university locations for research in a number of disciplines as well as for basic services and teaching.


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