Collaborative supercomputer deployed in Iceland

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The Danish Center for Scientific Computing (DCSC), the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), UNINETT Sigma and the University of Iceland have combined resources and deployed a joint supercomputer in Iceland. Located in the new environmentally-friendly Advania Thor Data Center, the supercomputer is part of a pilot initiative aiming to test remote hosting, where the computing is brought to the energy source and not vice versa.

‘Supercomputing has become fundamental for science and innovation, yet when the cost for hosting and operations is becoming comparable to the costs of hardware, and investments are increasing, we need to look into cost-efficient solutions,’ said Jacko Koster, director of UNINETT Sigma.

As a result of mounting power requirements, supercomputing costs are an increasing economic burden for researchers and universities, and Scandinavian countries spend millions of Euros every year on supercomputers and their electricity needs. Environmental factors are also a concern as supercomputers have a considerable CO2-footprint when fossil energy sources are used. Iceland was, in part, selected as the location for the new supercomputer as the country’s energy is produced at low cost from CO2-neutral renewable hydro- and geothermal energy sources.

In the long term, joint large-scale procurements and energy-efficient placement of supercomputers increases the possibility of developing new advanced competencies within shared operations of remote computing. The project also aims to explore the political, organisational and technical aspects of the joint ownership, administration and operation of expensive and strategic infrastructures.

The supercomputer comprises 288 HP BL280 servers with a total of 3,456 Intel cores, 7TB of RAM, 80TB of storage and performs at 35 teraflops per second. Project management, installation, implementation and the testing of equipment was handled by consultancy firm Opin Kerfi and HP.