200,000 operations per second. Science fiction? No, this is what the MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer will be capable of when it comes online on 31 December 2020.
Progress in science and technology are intimately linked with the growth of cities and advanced societies. It is made possible by the combined efforts of business, public and private institutions, research centres and universities.
Barcelona’s innovation ecosystem is celebrating the European Commission’s decision to choose the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) to install one of the three main facilities of the EuroHPC project. It comes with an investment of nearly 100 million euros, the highest for any research infrastructure in Spain.
This strategic decision is intended to put Europe in the international supercomputing contest, where the United States, China and Japan are all ahead of us.
An ocean of data
The National Supercomputing Centre in Barcelona (with support from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Generalitat and the UPC) will build MareNostrum 5 as a more advanced version of the current supercomputer. The machine is expected to reach a potential peak of 200 petaflops, which is 17 times greater than the current version (13.7 petaflops) and 10,000 times greater than the first supercomputer in this line, from 2004.
To get a better idea of what this means: none of the supercomputers in existence anywhere in the world at the end of 2017 could break the barrier of 100 petaflops. In December 2020, MareNostrum 5 will be capable of running 200 thousand billion operations per second.
The new supercomputer will be much larger than the current model, which means it will be distributed between the chapel of Torre Girona, where MareNostrum 4 now is, and the lower floors of the new Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, located nearby.
It should be remembered that the Barcelona National Supercomputing Centre has been active for 15 years and has around 600 highly qualified employees, many of whom come from the Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC), with others from over 40 different countries.
What do supercomputers do?
Supercomputers are used to study or resolve highly complex problems that are impossible or extremely difficult to handle in the real world. For example, they can create models to predict future climate, simulate stellar expansion, study the effects of a tsunami on a particular area or reproduce the aerodynamic profile of military aircraft.
When presenting the European project, the EC stated that its network of supercomputers would be used to develop personalized medicine applications, to design medicines and medical materials, for bioengineering, cyber-security, studying weather patterns and climate change.