EUR 8.7 million for new MOGON II high-performance computer at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Mainz University is a world leader in the field of simulation-driven sciences


A new high-performance mainframe computer at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz will promote the nationwide profile of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the field of supercomputing. Within the context of the Alliance for High-Performance Computing Rhineland-Palatinate, the German federal government, the state government, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) plan to invest a total of EUR 8.7 million in a new high-performance computer over the period 2015 to 2017. This will provide scientists in Rhineland-Palatinate to 2019 with the very best Germany has to offer in terms of computing power. The German Council of Science and Humanities agreed on funding this new high-performance mainframe computer at Mainz University, thus laying the foundation for the further development of scientific computing in Rhineland-Palatinate.

"The recommendation of the German Science Council once again underscores the fact that Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has become a national hub of excellence in research. After all, only projects of national significance characterized by high innovation potential are proposed for funding," said Minister of Science, Doris Ahnen. It is a matter of fact, Ahnen continued, "that the demands for superfast computing capacity increase where outstanding research is being undertaken. MOGON II is a good example of how targeted top-class research can be supported in Rhineland-Palatinate. In addition, the mainframe will provide scientists working in Mainz and beyond with the facilities they need to keep pace with scientific developments in the field of computer-based research." According to Ahnen, the positive recommendation of the German Science Council was mainly attributable to the highly visible dynamism that has developed in the Rhineland-Palatinate scientific and research landscape over recent years. The Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative has functioned as a successful catalyst in this, allowing the universities and universities of applied sciences to clearly identify and develop their research strengths. The Center of Data Processing at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz will operate the new MOGON II high-performance computer, which will replace the current MOGON system. When the latter was commissioned in 2012, MOGON was in position 81 on the list of the 500 fastest high-performance computers worldwide and even today is still listed in position 181. MOGON II will probably make it into the group of the top 100 fastest high-performance computers in the world.

The availability of high-performance computing is becoming increasingly important at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – in the field of physics, particularly in nuclear physics and high energy physics, in computer science, theoretical chemistry, and the materials sciences, but also for meteorology and genome research. JGU's Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA) also has a great demand for such computational resources. In addition, the planned MESA accelerator and the already existing next-generation sequencing systems in biology and the life sciences also require special computing power. On the basis of the use to date of the current MOGON I, Mainz University expects computational time requirements to triple between 2013 and 2015 and subsequently to double again between 2015 to 2017.

"The new high-performance computer will thus play an important role in the outstanding research fields at our university," said Professor Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "The use of computer simulations has become one of the most important techniques, in addition to modeling and experimentation, for generating new insights in the natural sciences. Access to current and sufficient capacity high-performance computing has become an important factor in that it significantly determines the competitiveness of our research. Mainz scientists have assumed a leading position worldwide in the field of simulation-driven research and have demonstrated this, in particular, through their scientific achievements in the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence, the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) as well as in various Collaborative Research Centers funded by the German Research Foundation."

In addition to these traditional user groups, the high-performance computer is also important with regard to geological, climatic, and weather research as well as the life sciences of biology and medicine at Mainz University. These user groups are already in the process of developing their own parallel computing programs that can be efficiently scaled to the high performance computer being procured. At the same time, this will create new challenges when it comes to accessing the parallel storage systems, something that is within the realm of massive data analysis and 'big data' applications. The plan is to equip the new high performance computer with a memory capacity of more than seven petabytes with an access speed of up to 100 gigabytes per second. This is equivalent to the data that can be stored on 1.5 million DVDs and a writing speed of 25 DVDs per second.

In addition to the needs of the researchers, the German Science Council also took into account the methodological and operational expertise in the area of high-performance computing at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. This is currently concentrated and being developed in the Center of Data Processing and through the Center for Computational Sciences in Mainz (CSM). With this in mind, Professor André Brinkmann, Director of the Center of Data Processing, is particularly pleased that JGU is willing both to create four additional posts at the interface of information technology and natural sciences and to promote acquirement of the necessary methodological expertise, thus helping to increase the efficiency of the use of the new system.