Computing boost for European fusion

29 January 2009

The Jülich Research Centre in Germany has ordered a new supercomputer which will host applications for the European Union's fusion research program. The move comes after last week's European Commission decision to allow fusion researchers access to a European supercomputer network.
The new Bull 'High-Performance Computing for Fusion' (HPC-FF) supercomputer, with a capacity of 100 Teraflops, will be used to validate the latest computer-generated models in plasma physics and turbulence simulation. It will also be used in rapid particle physics and materials physics. The simulations produced by HPC-FF will enable the models developed by researchers to be refined, and in particular, optimize the use of the Iter experimental fusion reactor.
Thomas Lippert, leading scientist and director of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre, said that the centre "is proud to host and operate the Bull HPC-FF for the benefit of the fusion community. Our operation and support teams will assure the most effective usage of this best-of-breed technology delivered by Bull."
Jérôme Paméla, leader of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), commented: "The HPC-FF supercomputer at Jülich - the use of which will be organized under the EFDA European cooperation agreement - will enable us to move forward on crucial scientific unknowns, and so accelerate our research into nuclear fusion. These new resources will put Europe at the forefront scientifically when it comes to supporting the Iter project."
"We are honoured by the Jülich Research Centre's decision, which means Bull will be a major contributor to the European Fusion Community. This represents a major leap forward in the development of a complete European ecosystem in computer simulation," said Didier Lamouche, chairman and CEO of Bull.
In a statement, Bull said: "The Bull HPC-FF supercomputer will be a key component in the preparation of the IFERC (International Fusion Energy Research Centre) project: an international data centre being established as part of a collaboration between Europe and Japan in relation to the ITER program."
The EU fusion research community will not only have access to over 100 Teraflops of capacity provided by the new HPC-FF supercomputer, but it will also be able to tap into additional power on demand from the Bull Juropa (Jülich Research on Petaflops Architectures) supercomputer, ordered by Jülich in 2008.
The two machines will be installed at Jülich, one of Europe's largest research centres, during the second quarter of 2009 to form a computing platform with a capacity of more than 300 Teraflops.
Number-cruncher network 
Last week, the European Commission announced that it will give European researchers working on the Iter project dedicated access to a network of supercomputers.
Access to the Distributed European Infrastructure for Supercomputing Applications (DEISA), Europe's consortium of leading supercomputing centres, will provide the researchers with essential supercomputing services and support for fusion related simulations. DEISA uses the GÉANT computer network. This is a multi-gigabit pan-European data communications network, reserved specifically for research and education use.
DEISA, which is receiving a total of €26 million ($34 million) in funding from the EU between 2004 and 2011, currently operates 12 of the world's 100 most powerful supercomputers.
Viviane Reading, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said: "We expect the new partnership between the supercomputing services of DEISA and the European nuclear fusion community to make an enormous contribution to nuclear fusion's potential as a viable energy source and power Europe's role in this quest." She added, "The long relationship of trust between the most renowned national supercomputing centres and the Commission is now paying off in key areas of European research. Advancing the study of fusion power could bring us closer to a potential answer to Europe's energy needs."