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EuroHPC selects Barcelona Supercomputing Center as entity to host one of the largest European supercomputers


The European Union would contribute around 100 million euros to MareNostrum 5, the highest EU investment in a research infrastructure in Spain.

The Spanish candidacy to host one of the pre-exascale supercomputers has been supported by Portugal, Turkey, Croatia and Ireland as EuroHPC member states

The new supercomputer will have peak performance of 200 petaflops (two hundred trillion floating-point operations per second)

The decision guarantees Barcelona a leading position in the future map of supercomputing in Europe

The European Commission (EC) has announced that EuroHPC has selected Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) as one of the institutions that will host a pre-exascale supercomputer in the high-capacity supercomputer network promoted by EC. The EC announcement describes the plan to acquire 8 supercomputers: 3 pre-exascale machines (with a peak performance of at least 150 Petaflops) and 5 petascale machines (capable of executing at least 4 Petaflops)

MareNostrum 5, the future BSC’s supercomputer, is one of the pre-exascale machines. It will have a peak performance of 200 petaflops (200 x 1015 floating-point operations per second) and will come into operation on 31 December 2020.

The European Union would invest in it around €100M, the highest investment done by this institution in a research infrastructure in Spain. The rest of the investment will be borne by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Catalan Government and the states that supported the bid: Portugal, Turkey and Croatia, with contributions that are yet to be defined.

The Commission's announcement is one of the steps included in the roadmap of the European Commission and of the states that are part of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking to ensure that the European Union maintains an outstanding position in the international race in the supercomputing field.

One of the first European supercomputers

“We have always thought that Europe should work together in a technological area in which we compete with countries as powerful as the United States, China and Japan and we are very satisfied to be able to say now that Barcelona will have one of the first supercomputers included in the new European supercomputing roadmap,” said Mateo Valero, the director of Barcelona Supercomputing Center. “Today's announcement is a recognition of over 15 years' experience in research and excellent service at BSC, as well as of our ambitions and plans for the future in the field of supercomputing.”

A change of scale for Barcelona Supercomputing Center

In addition to putting BSC on the recently created European supercomputing map, MareNostrum 5 will imply a leap in scale over the current infrastructure at Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Its peak power of 200 petaflops will be 17 times higher than its current supercomputer, MareNostrum 4, and 10,000 times higher than the supercomputer that began the saga in 2004, MareNostrum 1.

It will also be much larger in size, so the new machine will be physically spread out between the Torre Girona Chapel, MareNostrum's current base, and the lower floors of BSC's new corporate building, just a few meters away from the chapel.

BSC was set up in 2004 by the Spanish Government, the Catalan Government and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). It was based around a core group of UPC lecturers led by Mateo Valero and the first supercomputer, MareNostrum 1.

Since then, it has grown significantly from a centre employing 60 people to a staff of more than 600 highly-qualified workers, who come from more than forty different countries. Its success is due to having a computational science research department at the highest level worldwide and three research departments (Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and Engineering), which are experts in advancing their respective disciplines with supercomputing.

Throughout all these years, BSC has offered supercomputing services to Spanish and European researchers who are interested in working with this technology. The European Commission’s decision to include the centre in the European supercomputing map consolidates it as a leading institution at European level and a magnet for attracting talent.

“The demand for supercomputing services is rising as scientists find out what a supercomputer can contribute to their research and varies in accordance with the technological trends of the moment. Having a supercomputer such as the future MareNostrum 5 will allow us to continue to offer a top-level service from Barcelona”, said Sergi Girona, the director of BSC's Operations Department.

Support for BSC's candidacy

In March, Barcelona Supercomputing Center announced that it was submitting its candidacy to house one of the pre-exascale supercomputers that will operate in the EU at the start of 2021.

For its candidacy, the centre has been backed from the first moment by the Spanish Government, which introduced the topic in the Spanish – Portugal summit of November 2018 and added the support of Portugal.

More recently, the governments of Turkey, Croatia and Ireland have also joined the candidacy.

The rest of BSC shareholders institutions have also supported the initiative from the first moment and the Catalan Government has committed economically to the project. The proposal has also had the institutional support of the Barcelona City Council.

“Neither the candidacy nor the success achieved would have been possible without the trust placed in us by our centre’s trustees since it was founded in 2004. A large part of today's triumph is due to the fact of having been continually supported by the Spanish and Catalan governments and UPC,” said Josep M. Martorell, the associate director of BSC.

This communication was first published 7 June 2019 by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

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