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Innovative Nordic Supercomputer in Iceland

National High Performance Computing (HPC) organisations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland have pooled resources and powered up an innovative joint supercomputer in Iceland. It is innovative not so much for its technology, but for its concept, placement and operations.

Apr 17, 2012
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Johannes Jansson/norden.org

The computer is a part of a pilot initiative aiming to test remote hosting, such that computing is brought to the energy source and not vice versa, as is the norm, thereby introducing substantial savings.

Due to growing power consumption, supercomputing costs are an increasing economic burden for researchers and their universities. Iceland is an attractive location, with powerful natural resources providing very low-cost electricity and cost-efficient cooling solutions.

Supercomputing – Expensive but necessary for science

High Performance Computing (HPC) enables advanced scientific calculation, simulation and modelling, which is a precondition for much of the research and innovation that is funamental for today's knowledge driven economy.

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

Added to this economic incentive is of course the environmental one. Supercomputers entail a large CO2-footprint when fossil energy sources are used.

Joint investment and sharing infrastructure

In the long term, joint large scale procurements and energy efficient placement of supercomputers will be increasingly advantageous for the Scandinavian countries as well as to Iceland.

– We need to constantly develop our understanding of advanced computing and how to operate it in increasingly complex ways, says Ebba Þóra Hvannberg, director of the project and of Icelandic Supercomputing.

The project is the result of collaboration between the Danish Center for Scientific Computing (DCSC), the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), UNINETT Sigma and the University of Iceland.

Read more at the Nordic HPC project website