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University inaugurates its AION supercomputer

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Published on Wednesday, 10 November 2021

The University of Luxembourg officially inaugurated its AION High Performance Computer (HPC) during a ceremony on Belval Campus. The new supercomputer now provides state-of-the-art support to the University researchers and partners.

The supercomputer will enable research and innovation based on intensive computing and large-scale data analysis, in particular the fields computer science, materials physics, bio-medicine and life sciences, cryptology and artificial intelligence, but also digital history or socio-economic simulations.

Prof. Jens Kreisel, the University’s Vice-Rector for research, highlights that the new HPC will be an important element to implement the University’s ambitious digital strategy. “Excellent research and teaching need excellent research infrastructures. With AION, the University reinforces its position as an international frontrunner in HPC, and further enhances its attractiveness for the most covetable academic staff, experts and students, and thereby increases Luxembourg’s talent pool.”

High Performance Computing as a strategic priority

“High Performance Computing, High Performance Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence are cornerstones of the European, national, and University strategies”, explains Prof. Pascal Bouvry, Special advisor to the rector for HPC. “The new generations of supercomputers coupled with the existing high-level expertise in the field will leverage new discoveries. The University of Luxembourg takes part in the HPC national competence center in collaboration with LuxProvide and Luxinnovation, is part of the EuroHPC network, and established a de-facto solid strategic position in the field.”

At the University, this growing central facility provides support to deploy the University Digital Strategy and its long-term Strategy Framework 2020-2039.

The launch of AION also ties in with the recently announced new European Master in High Performance Computing, which will start in September 2022 as the first pan-European HPC pilot Master’s programme. The Master will be managed by the University of Luxembourg.

A powerful instrument

AION is an Atos/Bull supercomputer which consists of 318 compute nodes (featuring the latest generation of AMD processors), totaling 40704 compute cores and 81408 GB RAM, with a peak performance of about 1,70 PetaFLOPS.

“The installation and setup of this powerful machine and its associated ecosystem was delayed by one year as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” comments Dr. Sébastien Varrette, HPC Manager at the University. “The computer’s installation was a long journey, including many testing and validation phases before we were able to launch it. We are now very proud of this new tool, which is the most powerful supercomputer the University ever deployed! This would not have been possible without the tremendous efforts of the partners involved, including at the University and at Atos, so I would like to express to them my deep gratitude for this achievement”.

By combining the previously existing supercomputer Iris with the new AION system, the University's HPC reaches a cumulated computing capacity of 2.8 PetaFLOPS coupled with a shared storage capacity of 10 PetaBytes.