New high-performance computers for research: Saarland University becomes part of a nationwide network

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High-performance computers are needed at Saarland University, for example, for research projects in bioinformatics. Photo: Pasquale D'Angiolillo

Research often generates huge amounts of data that can only be analyzed with a lot of computing power. These include imaging processes such as tomography in materials science, genome sequencing in medicine or machine learning in many areas of artificial intelligence. The German Federal-State National High Performance Computing Program („Bund-Länder- Programm zum Nationalen Hochleistungsrechnen (NHR)) is intended to build up the necessary computing capacities and the corresponding know-how. Saarland University is now receiving financial support for this together with the universities in Mainz, Kaiserslautern and Frankfurt in the “NHR Center Southwest”. 

In addition to several supercomputers, there are already eight cross-regional centers for high-performance computing in Germany. The “ NHR Center Southwest” under the leadership of the University of Mainz has now also been included in the network. “ This offers us the advantage that, on the one hand, we can build up our own computing capacities. But we can also benefit from the nationwide network in which all regional centers have joined forces. Within this network, they all make computing time available to each other so that the high-performance computers can be used optimally,” explains Sebastian Hack, professor of computer science at Saarland University. In research projects, it is often the case that only certain phases, such as a simulation, require a particularly large amount of computing power. At other times, the computing power can be made available to other researchers. 

Computer scientist Sebastian Hack will contribute his research interests, namely programming languages, code optimization and compiler construction, to the new consortium. In addition, Philipp Slusallek, computer science professor at Saar University and scientific director at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, will contribute as an expert on research issues related to AI. With this, Saarland Informatics Campus is represented in this new scientific cooperation. At Saarland University, three staff positions will be created as part of the new center, half of which will be scientifically oriented and the other half will take care of services related to high-performance computing.

“At Saarland University, there are many research areas for which high-performance computing is of growing importance. In addition to computer science and bioinformatics, these include many biomedical applications as well as drug development in pharmacy. However, large amounts of data also accumulate in the physical and engineering sciences, for example through sensor technology and various imaging processes,” emphasizes Christian Wagner, Chief Digital Officer at the university, who supported the application process. Interesting applications for high-performance computers could also arise in the humanities and linguistics in the future, for example in the analysis of large knowledge databases.

Saarland’s Minister President Tobias Hans congratulates the participating scientists and explains: “The use of high-performance computers has become indispensable in many scientific fields. The four participating universities have successfully set out on their journey and are now part of a nationally coordinated and internationally competitive network. They mutually benefit from the expertise and the computing capacity that is being built up. At the same time, they bring their excellent research expertise to the network, creating real additional value for the NHR network and for the new sites.”

Background Saarland Informatics Campus:
800 scientists and about 2100 students from more than 80 nations make the Saarland Informatics Campus (SIC) one of the leading locations for computer science in Germany and Europe. Five world-renowned research institutes, namely the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, the Center for Bioinformatics and the Cluster for “Multimodal Computing and Interaction” as well as Saarland University with three departments and 24 degree programs cover the entire spectrum of computer science.

Die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit am Saarland Informatics Campus wird unterstützt durch das Kompetenzzentrum Informatik Saarland, gefördert aus Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) und Mitteln der Staatskanzlei Saarland.

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