Poland readies 100 teraflop supercomputer in time for its nuclear winter

Poland readies 100 teraflop supercomputer in time for its nuclear winter

Summary: The Swierk Computing Center will soon have the fastest supercomputer the country has ever seen, and one of the most powerful in the world.

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The Swierk Computing Center (CIS) near Warsaw is in the process of building the most powerful supercomputer Poland has seen to date.

Within the next two to three weeks, the computing centre should see its speed rise from a little over the 17 teraflops it now produces to around 100 teraflops. And, by the time the project is completed in 2015, the centre should have 500 teraflops of computing grunt at its disposal.

While nothing compared to some of the fastest supercomputers worldwide — which for a couple of years now have been measuring their performance in petaflops (the current record-holder is China's Tianhe-2 with 33,86 petaflops, more than sixty times the speed the Polish project is aiming for) — it will be enough to put CIS' among the top 100 supercomputers in the world, according to the organisation.

The CIS project has been under way since 2009 and is costing around PLN 100m (around €25m, $32m), 85 percent of which is covered by European Union funding. Currently, CIS is installing 360 Intel Xeon E5-2680v2, 23TB of RAM (DDR3-1600) and a relatively measly 72TB worth of SSD storage.

What will CIS be using the supercomputing power for? It's no coincidence the organisation is based next to the National Centre for Nuclear Research. The main goal of the CIS project is to support the Polish energy sector, specifically in its push for nuclear power.

This week, after many delays, the Polish government has greenlit the building of the country's first nuclear plant in an effort to diversify Poland's coal-dependant energy sector (a previous nuclear project in the 1980s was shelved after the Chernobyl disaster in what is now neighbouring Ukraine).

Along with hardware, CIS had been investing in software. "In order to optimise the operation of the reactor, you have to take into account heat dissipation and coolant dynamics," Wojciech Wislicki, director of CIS, told Polish news agency PAP last year.

"To do that, you need the right software. We already have the necessary licences and we always try to verify results with independent methods from different sources."

CIS also will be putting its supercomputer at CERN's disposal.

More from Poland

Topics: Hardware, Data Centers

Michiel van Blommestein

About Michiel van Blommestein

Michiel van Blommestein is a Dutch journalist who has been living in Poland since 2010. He worked as a technology journalist in the Netherlands before moving to Poland to work as a regular correspondent for various news outlets. He still loves the bits and bytes though.

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