EuroHPC Announces New Swedish Supercomputer, ‘Arrhenius’

By Oliver Peckham

June 19, 2023

During the EuroHPC Summit a few months ago, Anders Jensen – EuroHPC’s executive director – suggested that new mid-range EuroHPC supercomputers might be announced in the coming months. Today, we have our first of those announcements: a new Swedish supercomputer, Arrhenius. The supercomputer will be capable of “around 30 petaflops” and will be based at Linköping University (LiU).

The new system is named Arrhenius after Swedish geologist and chemist Carl Axel Arrhenius – not, as one might have guessed, Swedish physicist and chemist Svante Arrhenius. Carl Axel Arrehenius, the announcement notes, was a colleague of Jöns Jacob Berzelius, the namesake of LiU’s existing Berzelius supercomputer (which is receiving a major upgrade this year).

LiU was selected as Arrhenius’ host and operator following a call issued by EuroHPC last December. That call refers to opportunities for multiple new supercomputer hosts, though an exact number is unspecified. At LiU, the system will be managed by the National Academic Infrastructure for Super­computing in Sweden (NAISS), which took over as Sweden’s national organization for academic HPC just this year.

“Now that we have a new national organization in place, the addition of Arrhenius is an extremely important piece of the puzzle to be able to realize the potential of NAISS and to be able to assist Swedish and European researchers with world-class computing power,” commented Jan-Erik Sundgren, chairman of NAISS’ steering group (in translation).

But LiU/NAISS is not the only Swedish entity managing Arrhenius: the university has also partnered with the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) and the EuroCC Competence Centre Sweden (ENCCS), which EuroHPC says will help coordinate use of the system by industrial and public sector users.

Other than the target petaflops – “around 30” – details on the system are scant, as vendors have not yet been selected. EuroHPC did stress that the system will have “high memory bandwidth and fast data transfer to disk,” and also emphasized that thanks to the system’s location – and Sweden’s low-carbon electric grid – the system is expected to have “climate-effective” operations. EuroHPC also said that the system will be used for research areas like drug design and climate modeling.

Much of the emphasis in the announcement, though, was on how the installation of Arrhenius will position Sweden as more of a major player in the increasingly bustling European supercomputer scene.

“The development of computing power is going at a furious pace and will mean breakthroughs in many different research areas,” said Matts Karlsson, vice chancellor for research at LiU (in translation), adding: “The fact that the new European supercomputer ends up at LiU obviously means a lot for our own research, but it also means that we are seriously taking our place in the European arena.”

Indeed, the announcement of a new EuroHPC supercomputer in Sweden fills in yet another country on the initiative’s already impressive map of host states. Already operational: petascale systems in Bulgaria, Czechia, Luxembourg and Slovenia, alongside pre-exascale systems in Finland (LUMI) and Italy (Leonardo). Currently being installed: another petascale system in Portugal and another pre-exascale system (MareNostrum 5) in Spain.

And that’s just from the first slate of eight systems. From the second slate: Europe’s first exascale system, JUPITER, will be installed at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre in Germany (we’re expecting vendor announcements soon); four new mid-range systems – hosted by Greece, Hungary, Ireland and Poland – were announced a year ago, but it’s worth noting that EuroHPC has only issued updates on two of those four (those in Greece and Poland) since that announcement.

Now, Sweden’s Arrhenius system is joining these ranks, for a total of 14 announced or installed systems across 14 countries. EuroHPC currently has 33 participating countries, and more system announcements – including the host site for EuroHPC’s second exascale system – are expected in the coming months. One might expect to see some of those announcements emerge from the small handful of major European Union states which have not yet signed on to host a system and/or which have particularly sustainable energy infrastructure. (Looking at you, France.)

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