The Barcelona Supercomputing Center Offers a Virtual Tour of Its MareNostrum Supercomputer

By Oliver Peckham

July 6, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to threaten the world and disrupt normal operations, facility tours remain a little difficult to operate, with many supercomputing centers having shuttered facility tours for visitors – and even non-essential staff – since March. As Spain (which was hard-hit by the coronavirus) continues its broad reopening, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has reopened tours of its MareNostrum supercomputer. Still, as the borders of Spain itself are only open to certain countries, the reach of those tours remains limited – and so BSC has launched a virtual tour experience for MareNostrum, offering the entire world the opportunity to step inside the powerful supercomputer.

MareNostrum, which became operational in 2017, is a Lenovo-built supercomputer with 3,456 nodes (each with two Intel Xeon Platinum 8160 24C CPUs), 384.75 TB of memory and an Intel Omni-Path interconnect. In total, MareNostrum delivers 6.5 Linpack petaflops, placing it 37th on the most recent Top500 list of the world’s most powerful publicly ranked computers.

“This experience will allow access to all the corners of the space where MareNostrum is located,” BSC wrote in its announcement. “From the main entrance, the museum with the machines from the beginning and parts of old supercomputers, the upper floor with the walkway that crosses over the supercomputer, the choir and even you will be able to access the inside of the glass urn where MareNostrum is located, walk through its corridors and have a 360º view of the facilities that are underground and that are essential for MareNostrum to work.”

As users progress along the tour, they can interact with various information points built into the 3D space, learning about the history and functions of the building and the supercomputer itself. “In this way, the center goes one step further to bring research closer to society and adds the virtual visit to the face-to-face visits that BSC has offered for years,” BSC wrote.

To access the virtual tour, click here.

The virtual tour of MareNostrum comes hot on the heels of the virtual tour of the Hawk supercomputer at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS) that was made available just a few weeks ago. Like the MareNostrum tour, the Hawk tour allows users to virtually walk around the supercomputer and interact with various information points. Rumor also has it that virtual tours of Summit – recently dethroned as the leader of the Top500 – are in the works and due to be released soon.

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