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Thirty Years of Supercomputing in Finland - New BullSequana supercomputer Puhti and data management solution Allas from Atos to be inaugurated

Fall 1989 saw the introduction of a long-awaited innovation: Finland's first supercomputer, the Cray X-MP. Ever since those days, over a period spanning three decades, researchers in Finnish higher education and research institutions have solved scientific problems using mathematical modeling, high-performance computing and Finland's own supercomputer.

The story of Finnish scientific computing continues today as the first phase of Finland's next-generation data management and computing environment is launched at CSC's data center in Kajaani.

– At the first time, CSC's data management and computing services are available to all public research institutions, as the services can now be used by researchers at research institutes, not just at universities and universities of applied sciences. This facilitates collaboration, says Director Erja Heikkinen for Ministry of Education and Culture.

The Puhti Supercomputer and the Puhti-AI Artificial Intelligence Partition, designed for AI research and applications as well as other GPU computing, more than double the computing capacity available to CSC. Puhti is a BullSequana X400 system from Atos, global leader in digital transformation, and it supports a wide range of workloads, including simulations, high-throughput workflows, data analysis and deep learning.

– With these new, forward-looking investments we are endeavoring to meet the needs of Finland's research community in a way that benefits Finnish society at large. We now have the ability to serve an even wider customer base ranging from computing-intensive industries to innovative projects in need of more efficient data management, says CSC Managing Director Kimmo Koski.

Supercomputer Puhti (Atos BullSequana X400).
Photo: Mikael Kanerva, CSC

Based on object storage technology, the new data management system Allas, also delivered by Atos, provides 12 petabytes of storage capacity and a versatile environment for storing, sharing and analyzing data across CSC's entire computing infrastructure. 

– Our new data management system Allas will revolutionize scientific data management in Finland. Thanks to its new object storage technology, Allas enables our customers to store large amounts of data and offers them a range of options for sharing and analysis, explains CSC Computing Services for Research Director Pekka Lehtovuori.

The second phase of the new environment, the Mahti supercomputer, a BullSequana XH2000 from Atos, is set to be deployed in early 2020. When complete, the new environment will represent a sixfold increase in computing capacity compared to CSC's previous environment.

Puhti-AI puts artificial intelligence to practical use

Puhti-AI is an advanced partition suitable for artificial intelligence research and data analytics.  AI research and the utilization of AI applications in research are some of the hottest fields of research at the moment.

– Artificial intelligence and machine learning are developing incredibly quickly, and we at Atos are proud to say that researchers at Finnish higher education and research institutions have at their disposal an internationally competitive set of tools with which they can take their research to the next level, says Harri Saikkonen, Managing Director, Atos in the Nordics.

For example, CSC, the National Library and the National Archives make use of machine learning powered by Puhti-AI's high-performance GPU computing in enriching the digital materials of cultural memory organizations in their High-Performance Digitisation collaboration.

Companies have widely recognized the data-driven economy and data analytics as a new way of doing business. The new data management and computing environment has been developed to also serve companies' RDI needs. Business cooperation has been built in different ways, such as the Data Analysis Accelerator launched last year with Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, which speeds up the use of data analytics methods in companies in the Kainuu region.

– As the leading European supercomputer manufacturer, we are extremely proud to be contributing to the competitiveness of Finland and the Finnish research and academic community, says Agnès Boudot, Senior Vice President, Head of HPC & Quantum at Atos. – It is very important that HPC knowledge and skills are fostered in Europe, so that we can ensure that Europe continues to grow as a major player in supercomputing globally on the road to Exascale.

Important questions for humanity are solved with supercomputers

With the help of supercomputers, researchers can find solutions to the central issues facing humanity in the fields of medical and climate science or fusion research, for example. The objects of research can range from tiny quantum-level phenomena to intergalactic turbulence and from cell membrane proteins to massive black holes.

– Our health is largely based on the fact that cell membrane proteins control the communication of our cells correctly. With the new supercomputers, we are finally able to figure out with atomic precision how these proteins work and how their malfunctions lead to disease"s, says Ilpo Vattulainen, Professor of Biological Physics at the University of Helsinki.

Last April, the international collaborative Event Horizon Telescope project published the world's first image of a black hole. Using very long baseline interferometry, radio telescopes located in different places on Earth are combined into one almost Earth-sized virtual telescope in order to obtain the clearest possible image of the distant object.

– The technology is very data intensive, and computing resources are required in order to combine the signals recorded by the telescopes, compute the image based on the combined data and model the plasma around the black hole. Simulations that model the behavior and radiation of plasma in the gravitational field of a black hole in particular require the highest-performance computing resources available, explains Tuomas Savolainen, Senior Scientist at Aalto University.

Savolainen is part of the Event Horizon Telescope research community and is one of the researchers tasked with analyzing the combined data from eight telescopes and utilizing it to form the image of the black hole.

 

CSC is a Finnish center of expertise in ICT that provides world-class services for research, education, culture, public administration and enterprises, to help them thrive and benefit society at large. www.csc.fi

Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with over 110,000 employees in 73 countries and annual revenue of over € 11 billion. European number one in Cloud, Cybersecurity and High-Performance Computing, the Group provides end-to-end Orchestrated Hybrid Cloud, Big Data, Business Applications and Digital Workplace solutions. The group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic & Paralympic Games and operates under the brands Atos, Atos Syntel, and Unify. Atos is a SE (Societas Europaea), listed on the CAC40 Paris stock index.

The purpose of Atos is to help design the future of the information technology space. Its expertise and services support the development of knowledge, education as well as multicultural and pluralistic approaches to research that contribute to scientific and technological excellence. Across the world, the group enables its customers, employees and collaborators, and members of societies at large to live, work and develop sustainably and confidently in the information technology space. atos.net/nordics

Images for media use

Images of the new supercomputer and the inauguration ceremony can be found in the CSC image gallery, https://www.csc.fi/en/web/guest/for-media

 

Further information

  • Pekka Lehtovuori, Director, Computing Services for Research, CSC tel. +358 50 381 9723,
    pekka.lehtovuori (at) csc.fi
  • Harri Saikkonen, Managing Director, Atos Nordics, tel. +358 40 7600 187, harri.saikkonen (at) atos.net