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Brazil receives its first petascale supercomputer

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A new Brazilian supercomputer, the largest in Latin America, named after a Brazilian aviation pioneer Santos Dumont, has massively increased the availability of HPC resources to Brazilian academic community.

The contract, awarded to the French company Bull, a provider of HPC systems and infrastructure, represents the first petascale high-performance computing system in Brazil and the largest to date in Latin America. The system which has a peak performance of 1.1 petaflops is being funded through a partnership with the National Scientific Computing Laboratory (LNCC) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).

Philippe Vannier, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at Atos said: ‘We are very proud to equip Brazil with a world-class, petascale high-performance computing infrastructure and to launch a R&D centre in Petrópolis that is fully integrated with our global R&D.’

Vannier stated that Atos’ long standing presence in the country had been a driving force behind this deal. He said: ‘With a presence in this country stretching back over more than 50 years, the collaborative ties that bind Bull and now Atos to Brazil in terms of leading-edge technologies are significant. Atos is proud to support Brazil as it moves into a new stage in its development.’

Although this is not the first HPC system in Brazil, it is the first to break the petaflop barrier. As such, this new system represents an order of magnitude increase in the peak performance capacity of Brazil’s HPC infrastructure. The new capabilities provided by this HPC system will provide a huge boost to fields classicly dominated by HPC, such as meteorology, molecular dynamics and computational fluid dynamics.

However it is expected that this new system will enable advances in a wide variety of sectors such as energy, oil, chemistry, physics, the environment, meteorology, astronomy, life sciences and nanotechnology.

Pedro L da Silva Dias, LNCC director, stressed the value that this new HPC system would deliver to Brazil: ‘A long-time dream of the Brazilian scientific community was to have access to mainframe computers that allow the realisation of "Big Science" in a highly competitive manner.’

The Santos Dumont system will be used not only to support scientific research and innovation, but also to help the LNCC provision HPC services to the Brazilian government and wider society. Dumont was a national hero in Brazil, an aviation pioneer who was influential in the development of early aircraft, which demonstrates the significance of this new system to the Brazilian academic community.