Stronger together


Technology is becoming more complex and specialised, the clientele more diverse and their wishes more varied: In order to better equip themselves for the future, four international High Performance Computing or HPC centres are intensifying their cooperation and also initiating the International Association of Supercomputing Centers (IASC). This new association will be constituted during International Supercomputing (ISC), which will be held in Hamburg from 29 May to 2 June, 2022. "We can achieve more together and learn from each other," explains Laura Schulz, responsible for strategic development and acting department head for quantum computing and technologies the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ). "The users benefit from better services, and we can also research and advance new technologies together."

In addition to the LRZ in Garching, the British Hartree Centre in Daresbury, the US institutions Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Illinois are among the founding members of the IASC. The quartet hopes to attract interest from other publicly funded computing centres that are committed to research, science and the regional economy. After all, not only is HPC changing due to more heterogenous processor and storage technologies, the data centres are also providing their clientele with more and more innovative systems for artificial intelligence applications and offering access to the first quantum computers. At the same time, many questions remain unanswered: for example, data centres all over the world are looking for methods to organise their operations in a climate-neutral way and to curb the energy hunger of the HPC systems, for which thousands of computing nodes are parallelised. Cloud computing brings new customers to the centres, and a diverse clientele that no longer consists only of computer experts needs advice or assistance with their computing work. This in turn places new demands on the education and training of staff, on management and public relations. "So far, the supercomputing centres have largely solved these issues for themselves, we can optimise it," says Schulz. At the founding meeting at the ISC on 31 May 2022 from 11.30, Schulz and her colleagues Michael Gleaves (Hartree), Wayne Miller (LLNL) and Brendan McGinty (NCSA) will discuss the challenges facing supercomputing centres and work with interested parties to develop an agenda for the IASC.