Tecnopolo in Bologna to host European supercomputer

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The centre in Bologna will host a next generation computer as part of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking initiative, which will acquire, create and implement a high-performance calculation infrastructure across Europe.

The Tecnopolo in Bologna will host a new supercomputer for big data processing, able to perform over 150 petaflops, i.e. 150 million billion calculations per second. The news arrived a few days ago from the Governing Board of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, the European joint initiative in support of projects and infrastructures for high-performance computing, which approved the proposal presented by Italy and Slovenia, part of a consortium led by Consorzio Interuniversitario CINECA, together with the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA).

“I wish to say just how proud I am of this result”, said the Rector of the University of Bologna, Francesco Ubertini. “An important final step that completes a process: thanks to the synergy between CINECA, INFN and SISSA, the European Data Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and now this new infrastructure, Bologna, and Italy, become Europe's scientific calculation hub. It is the result of great teamwork, for which I thank all the institutions involved. The new computer will allow the research community to create new initiatives, following the way paved, for example, by the creation of the PHD Programme Degree for Big Data, and more recently a Second cycle degree and an interdependent Centre dedicated to Artificial Intelligence”.

The great scientific and social challenges of the future will be closely connected with high performance calculations, from the medical sector with early diagnosis and personalised therapies, to the industrial revolution 4.0, and of course prevention and management of emergencies, defence and cybersecurity. The EuroHPC project is part of Europe’s plan to make supercomputing resources more widely available to support growth and innovation.

The pre-exascale class supercomputer that will be hosted by the Tecnopolo in Bologna, with a performance capacity of 150 petaflops, will be funded by the European Commission with 120 million euros, to which MIUR will add another 120 million euros over a period of seven years (2019-2025); an overall investment of 240 million euros.

Eight different sites will be involved in the EuroHPC project: apart from Italy, with its centre in Bologna, Sofia (Bulgaria), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Kajaani (Finland), Bissen (Luxembourg), Minho (Portugal), Maribor (Slovenia) and Barcelona (Spain). In total, the EU’s contribution is worth approximately 486 million euros, part of a long-term funding plan, to which the member and associated countries will add a similar contribution. It is estimated that by 2020 a total one billion euros of public funds will have been invested in the project, to which private parties adhering to the initiative will have added their in-kind contributions.

Thanks to EuroHPC’s infrastructure, the European industrial sector, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, will have easier access to supercomputers to develop innovative products. 50% of the calculation power generated will be available to research institutes, universities and companies, while the rest will be used by participating countries. The use of high-performance calculation has a growing impact on different sectors and on companies, as it considerably reduces designing and production cycles, accelerates the designing of new materials, rationalises costs, increases resource efficiency and shortens and optimises decision processes. For example, supercomputers allow to reduce car production cycles from 60 to 24 months.

This communication was first published 13 June 2019 by the University of Bologna.

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