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Categories: BASF HPE Supercomputer

For those of a certain age (around 40-years old and onwards), the ‘ #compactcassette ‘ was a wonderful thing. Manufacturer brand names including #Memorex, #TDK, #Sony, #AGFA and #BASF are etched into our memory because we carried the soundtrack to our youth around on these tough little plastic units. But those days are gone… and then the CD happened and then the Internet happened and then music streaming happened and so we forgot all about some of those names. All those brands do in fact all still trade to this day (Sony, more obviously than some). Mostly they are all to be found working in areas encompassing digital imaging and media in one form or another. German chemical firm BASF is today known for its work in plastics, biotechnology and chemicals. A chemical (research) romance In this regard then, BASF is now working with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (or #HPE, as we are now encouraged to call it) on a project to develop one of the world’s largest #supercomputer s for industrial chemical research. The work itself is being undertaken at BASF’s headquarters in the fabulously named Ludwigshafen, Germany. “The new supercomputer will promote the application and development of complex modeling and simulation approaches, opening up completely new avenues for our research at BASF,” said Dr. Martin Brudermueller, vice chairman of the board of executive directors and chief technology officer at BASF. This very big supercomputer (in German: sehr große supercomputer) will be based on HPE Apollo 6000 systems, which, in terms of form factor, are ‘racks’ of computer power typically deployed in High-Performance Computing (HPC) environments. How long is an HPC calculation? Used in practice, complex HPC calculations performed in areas like chemical research can take ‘several months’ (so say the firms) to actually execute. The new machine aims to reduce months down to days. As part of BASF’s wider digitalization strategy, the company also plans to expand its capabilities to run virtual experiments with this supercomputer. BASF says it will use the machine, for example, to simulate processes on ‘catalyst surfaces’ more precisely or accelerating the design of new polymers with pre-defined properties. Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive officer Meg Whitman is on the record saying how pleased she is about the ‘prodigious calculations’ about the be carried out by BASF. “In today’s data-driven economy, high performance computing plays a pivotal role in driving advances in space exploration, biology and Artificial Intelligence.” The machine itself will feature Intel Xeon processors as well as high-bandwidth low-latency Intel Omni-Path Fabric and HPE management software. Several ‘racks’ of HPE computer power strung together, the supercomputer acts as a single system with an effective performance of more than 1 Petaflop (1 Petaflop equals one quadrillion floating point operations per second). With this system architecture, a multitude of nodes can work simultaneously on highly complex tasks. Developed and built by HPE, the new supercomputer will consist of several hundred computer nodes.

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