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Atos tossed €20m to build Max Planck Society supercomputer

Unnamed platform boasts three times the application performance of its predecessor, Cobra

Atos is building a new supercomputer for the Max Planck Society, an organization conducting research into the natural sciences, life sciences, and humanities, in a contract valued at €20 million ($21.3 million).

The French multinational IT services biz says it won the contract to build a new machine based on its latest BullSequana XH3000 compute platform. This will supersede the existing "Cobra" system operated by the Max Planck Society, which was also built by Atos. The replacement is expected to provide three times the application performance of its predecessor.

We asked Atos if this contract was put out to tender, or if it had simply been awarded the business based on having built the previous system, but the company declined to address that point.

The unnamed supercomputer is to be installed at the Max Planck Computing and Data Facility (MPCDF) in Garching near Munich, and will provide high-performance compute facilities for many of the institutes of the Max Planck Society.

Among the projects it is expected to provide processing support for are astrophysics, life science research, materials research, and plasma physics.

"The computing power required by scientific research is ever increasing and we see an unabated need for high-performance computing capacity," MPCDF director Professor Erwin Laure said in a statement. "We want to provide the best possible support to our researchers in their work and have therefore decided to modernize our high-performance computing complex."

The BullSequana XH3000 platform deployed at the MPCDF will be based on AMD 4th Gen Epyc processors plus the AMD Instinct MI300A accelerator that combines Epyc CPU cores and GPU cores. The ten racks this will initially fill will hold a total of 768 processor nodes and 192 accelerator nodes, according to Atos.

In addition, the system will incorporate IBM Spectrum Scale storage, although Atos declined to specify the capacity, plus Atos's Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) technology.

The CPU nodes for the new supercomputer will be delivered in the third quarter of 2023, with installation of the GPU nodes expected in the first half of 2024.

Atos has also built the Lenoardo pre-exascale system at the Bologna Technopole in Italy, which is based on the BullSequana XH2000 architecture. The company is building another European pre-exascale system, the MareNostrum5 supercomputer at Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which will use BullSequana XH3000 hardware as part of its accelerator partition.

The business is regarded as a strong candidate to take the contract to build JUPITER, the first European exascale computer. The European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) announced a call for tenders in order to select a vendor in January. ®

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