High-performance computer MOGON II at Mainz University is among the fastest 100 supercomputers in the world

MOGON II supercomputer is the fastest high-performance computer at a German university

27 November 2017

The Mainz MOGON II supercomputer is among the fastest 100 supercomputers in the world. In October 2017, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) put the second phase of MOGON II into operation. With a computational performance of two petaflops, i.e., 2,000,000,000,000,000 arithmetic operations per second, it comes in at number 65 on a list of the world's 500 fastest computers. This makes the Mainz supercomputer the fastest high-performance computer presently installed at a German university. On a list of the most energy-efficient supercomputers, MOGON II is number 51 worldwide. MOGON owes its name to the Latin name for the Roman city of Mainz, Mogontiacum.

Since 2016 the state government, the federal government, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) have invested a total of EUR 10.6 million in the new high-performance computer. Within the context of the Alliance for High-Performance Computing Rhineland-Palatinate (AHRP), the aim is to provide scientists and researchers from the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate with internationally top-flight computing power until 2020.

This investment has enabled JGU to construct a 1,876-node supercomputer, of which 822 nodes are each equipped with two 10-core Broadwell processors and 1,046 nodes are equipped with two 16-core Skylake Intel processors. The more than 49,000 cores are linked between nodes in a 50 Gbps Intel Omni-Path network and connected to a storage system with 7.5 petabytes of usable capacity. MOGON II is operated jointly at JGU by the Center of Data Processing (ZDV) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM).

"Advances in computer technology have made it possible for the new high-performance computer, with almost seven times the peak performance of its predecessor system, to run on only 657 kW, thus consuming only 40 percent more power," explained Professor André Brinkmann, Head of the Center of Data Processing at Mainz University. "We can thus provide our scientists with world-class, state-of-the-art, high-performance computing at only slightly higher operating costs."

High-performance, top-of-the-range computing for fundamental research

Fundamental research in the natural and life sciences is dependent on access to sufficiently powerful computing resources. The work groups utilizing MOGON II are from the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, biology, medicine, chemistry, and the geosciences. MOGON II has been used to simulate the structure of matter and antimatter, to develop new materials, to improve cancer therapies and our understanding of evolution, and to enable the development of more accurate weather and climate models.

The only way the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence, the MAINZ Graduate School of Excellence, and the majority of JGU collaborative research centers can refine their models―and therefore our understanding of the world―is through ever greater computing power. Within the projects being undertaken in PRISMA, physicists at the Helmholtz Institute Mainz will employ the computer to simulate particle collisions and calculate the mass and structural properties of hadrons, i.e., of the binding energy of quarks and gluons. Both investigations are also closely linked to the construction and commissioning of the FAIR accelerator complex in Darmstadt. "The significant increase in our computing capacity thanks to the commissioning of the second stage of MOGON II has made Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz one of the leading national centers with regard to research into strong interactions," emphasized Professor Hartmut Wittig, the coordinator of the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence.

Alliance for High-Performance Computing Rhineland-Palatinate

The new high-performance computer is available to scientists at JGU and also to the Alliance for High-Performance Computing Rhineland-Palatinate. In addition, access to the computer is shared through a Germany-wide network, thanks to the membership of the JGU Center of Data Processing in the Gauß-Allianz, the association of German high-performance computing centers. Rhineland-Palatinate's computing capacity is combined within the AHRP, making it available to all the German state universities and research facilities. The AHRP also provides training in and guidance on the use of high-performance computing. The commissioning of the new high-performance computer and its integration into the AHRP thus contribute to the enhancement of the profiles of all universities in Rhineland-Palatinate and to reinforcing their international competitiveness.

The Gauß-Allianz promotes efforts aiming at the sustainable and efficient use of Germany’s top supercomputing resources such as coordinating and pooling the complementary skills and expertise of the participating computing centers. The declared aim of the Gauß-Allianz is to promote high-performance computing as an independent strategic research activity, with a focus on research and development of strategies to improve the efficiency, applicability, and simplified usability of high- and ultra-high-performance computing.