Portugal has officially inaugurated its first-ever supercomputer. The unassumingly named “Bob” supercomputer is housed in the Minho Advanced Computer Center (MACC) at the University of Minho.
Bob was announced in early 2018 and is expected to represent a roughly tenfold increase in Portugal’s computing power. It consists of twenty racks of the first iteration of the Stampede supercomputer from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), which were transferred to Portugal’s Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) thanks to a partnership between Portugal and the University of Texas at Austin.
In total, Bob – which consists of 80 nodes – has 266 GB of memory, 1 PB of storage and 1 petaflops of computing performance delivered by Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, all housed in three types of Dell PowerEdge servers. The supercomputer — and MACC more broadly — will be primarily powered by wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
MACC itself is also new. When the partnership between Portugal and UT Austin was extended, FCT decided to use the racks to launch MACC – and Portugal’s first supercomputer – at the University of Minho with a threefold mission: to enable the emergence of new, HPC-dependent research domains; to promote scientific and economic activity by structuring and coordinating scientific and technological efforts; and to increase the potential for growth in data intelligence and other areas by attracting the interest of research laboratories.
Bob will also help to serve as the basis for the AIR_DataNet network, a large-capacity federated data infrastructure focused on serving the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre). The AIR Centre focuses on issues ranging from climate change mitigation and sustainable energy to marine resources and biodiversity to outer space and the deep ocean. As a result, Bob’s supercomputing power will serve a wide variety of scientific research areas.
MACC is also planning a second supercomputer – “Deucalion” – for operation by the end of 2020. Deucalion will be a petascale computer — expected to deliver about 10 petaflops — developed under the EuroHPC initiative. Portugal is also taking part in a European Commission-approved project to install a pre-exascale computer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center–i.e., MareNostrum 5–with a target of 200 peak petaflops.