The hallowed halls of a late 1800’s chapel seem an unlikely home for a supercomputer. But that is precisely what you would find if you walked into the Torre Girona chapel: Barcelona Supercomputing (BSC) Center’s MareNostrum 4, the fastest supercomputer in Spain and ranked 16th in the list of the Top500 High Performance Computers worldwide.
The BSC is linked to the EUROfusion programme through the Spanish Research Unit CIEMAT in Madrid, and Mervi Mantsinen, the Fusion Group Manager at BSC sees immense potential for supercomputers to simulate fusion processes. “So far, no simulation goes all the way to rebuild the entire complexity of a fusion experiment. And this is our chance,” she says.
Simulations for fusion...
Along with the Italian supercomputing machine, the Marconi-Fusion high performance computer, one facet of MareNostrum’s repertoire is to churn out simulations for fusion processes. In 2016, EUROfusion invested in parts of the Marconi-Fusion high performance computer in order to simulate fusion processes, and today some work done at MareNostrum complements that carried out at Marconi-Fusion. To Mervi, fusion research is one of the driving forces behind the developments of supercomputers. “For instance, we want to calculate the behaviour of every single electron or predict the material behaviour under fusion conditions. This requires a new code development or up-to-date architectures for our systems”, she says.
...and being gorgeous
Asian and American supercomputing centres dominate the top of the Top500 High Performance Computers lists today, however European centres may catch up with the help of the proposed one billion euro investment in supercomputing. But there’s one list that MareNosturum already leads: it was named the most beautiful, and the most interesting data centre in the world in 2017 by the Datacenter Dynamics Company. Did that perhaps have something to do with a certain popular author setting his latest thriller at BSC? Perhaps; in fact, the centre is open to visitors so one can visit the centre and decide!