Year in review: new technology, reliable services and diversity in 2022 for th LRZ
Aware of a successful history, the LRZ is starting into its future
Together with a cryostat, a shimmering golden cooling device, the first three quantum processors (QPU) reached the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in spring 2022. The components were installed in the Quantum Integration Center (QIC), they are now being tested and gradually integrated into the supercomputing system. “We currently have three quantum processors, each with five qubits, running in a cryostat,” explains Prof. Dieter Kranzlmüller, head of the LRZ. “This is the preparatory work for the first German quantum demonstrator, for which a quantum system is integrated into an exascale supercomputer.” The future continues to be the agenda of the LRZ – not only in quantum computing and technologies. 2022 was a busy and successful year for the data centre in Garching: It celebrated its 60th anniversary this summer, it was able to expand its international profile, it now offers researchers access to the world's largest computer chip designed for artificial intelligence (AI) purposes, it was established as a location for a European quantum computer, and it participated in numerous research projects. “With all the positive headlines that we generated this year - the most important success is certainly that our IT services continue to run in a reliable and secure manner and that the recertification process went smoothly," says Prof. Helmut Reiser, deputy LRZ manager. Time to look back on an exciting year 2022, which will soon lead innovative technologies and, above all, many new services and opportunities to students and researchers.
• In January 2022, preparations start for LRZ’s next supercomputer. The new system is to be created in an innovation partnership – a novelty in Europe. In several development phases companies compete with their concepts for technical specifications and usage requirements. A team is being formed at the LRZ to compile wishes and criteria and to invite three companies to participate in the first round of the competition. Until summer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Lenovo will win the first round. The LRZ will now develops and optimises prototypes with them - and by end of 2023 it will be determined which company will ultimately build the next supercomputer.
• The actually world's largest computer chip also shimmers golden and is as big as a dinner plate: In May 2022, the LRZ buys a Cerebras CS-2 system with HPE Superdome Flex servers, in which this wafer scale engine, which specialises in AI methods, is used. Featuring 850,000 computing cores and evenly distributed data memories, the system can transport data and store it at lightning speed in order to train neural networks for tasks such as pattern or speech recognition. Scientists hope that AI will also help to close gaps in simulations that cannot yet be solved with conventional technology. The system, which reaches Garching in summer, is ready for operation in late autumn.
• The cooperative IT service for information security across universities (HITS-IS), in which the LRZ is significantly involved and which it promotes with services for all Bavarian universities and colleges, will start well prepared in June 2022. The aim is to establish IT security, a coordinated approach and to enable the exchange of experience between IT managers at the universities and specialists at the LRZ. HITS-IS will lead to new standardised services and platforms throughout Bavaria.
• In the summer of 2022 it is the time to celebrate at the LRZ: On July 14th and 15th, the data center marks its 60th anniversary and celebrates it together with many users. Scientists, researchers and students discuss the future of computing and HPC, they present excellent projects that required computing power and that resulted in new tools and workflows for simulation or visualisation. The lectures can be accessed online; on a special website, the LRZ presents a number of people, visionary future concepts as well as solutions.
• Safe and reliable services: In September 2022, the LRZ manages to re-certify its services. For the first time, the external review of processes, documentation and working methods in the disciplines of information security (ISO/IEC 27001) and IT service management (ISO/IEC 20000) includes the research division. The high effort of the LRZ colleagues pays off – the auditors praise above all the good communication process in the team and the high degree of maturity of the management systems. They also make some suggestions for improvements.
• At the beginning of October 2022, the Governing Board of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) chooses the LRZ as one of six locations for a European quantum computer. The aim of the project "European Quantum Computing for Exascale-HPC" (Euro-Q-Exa) is to integrate quantum processors into supercomputers. The LRZ has already been working on this for some time in several projects funded by Bavaria. The jurors were convinced that the LRZ will soon be able to provide European scientists with access to such a system, probably in the second half of 2023: With the first three quantum processors already running at the LRZ (see above) and coupled with high-performance computing systems, a digital-analogue quantum computer has been realised for the DAQC project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition this lays the basis for the next quantum computer-accelerated supercomputer at the LRZ at Exascale level, working name: Q-Exa. This system will also be available to European researchers. The plan is to gradually increase the size of the quantum processors working in it to up to 100 qubits.
• Also in October, the Center for Virtual Reality and Visualisation (V2C) at the LRZ celebrates its 10th anniversary – an excellent occasion to draw attention to the groundbreaking work that was created here in collaboration with scientists and students: the images of the largest interstellar turbulence to date, for example, or of the blood flow in arteries and veins, the VR applications on the history of the Earth or on the water supply in Bavaria. By autumn, the V2C also revised its RemoteVIS services. Researchers can not only access graphics tools via the cloud, but also computer and storage capacities.
• In autumn 2022, the European Open Websearch.EU project is launched, in which the LRZ is involved along with 13 other organisations, research institutes and data centers from seven countries. An open web index is to be created by 2025, which will improve searching for information and lead to new search services. Europe hopes to increase its digital sovereignty in this way. The LRZ is involved in this ambitious project by providing experience in the management of research data, as well as with its own tools and techniques for storing and researching information.
• New technologies, services and research projects: The LRZ continues to grow. It no longer looks for IT specialists and research staff locally and in Bavaria. In November 2022, takes part in a careers fair in Dallas/USA for the first time, which takes place as part of the international supercomputing conference SC22. Efforts like this have paid off: by the end of 2022, 42 nations are represented at the LRZ, the level of diversity is high and growing further – and a diversity team has been in place to support the challenges of integration, mutual recognition, tolerance and to promote respect for being different. (vs)
2022 in pictures: the LRZ60 party, lectures, visitors, the cryostat and the CACE of V2C