22 January 2021 - High Performance ComputingThe new supercomputer “Helix” for statewide research

Helix will become operational in the third quarter 2021 and be available as a State service for researchers of universities and colleges from the whole of Baden-Württemberg. 

Engineers building a supercomputer

Hello Helix! Building the new supercomputer

The contracting phase for the procurement of the new high performance system bwForCluster Helix, which will be built at Heidelberg University's University Computing Centre (URZ), began at the start of 2020. 
In order to build this new high-performance computing system, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Ministry for Sciences, Research and Arts of Baden-Württemberg (MWK) and Heidelberg University are providing collective funding of approximately five million euros.
Helix is replacing the cross-site computer system bwForCluster MLS&WISO. The setup of the new supercomputer is taking place under the direction of the HPC expert team from the service area Future IT - Research & Education (FIRE) at the URZ, which previously operated the cross-site predecessor computer. The new supercomputer at the URZ will be directly connected to the LSDF2 (Large Scale Data Facility, 2nd generation), a storage system specialized for data-intensive research with a usable capacity of more than ten petabytes.

The expansion of High Performance Computing (HPC) at the URZ

The Heidelberg Computing Centre is a key pillar supporting research fields reliant on high-performance computers and cutting-edge research in Baden-Württemberg. The bwForCluster Helix is part of the HPC strategy of the State of Baden-Württemberg, through which high-performance computers have been made available at five university-locations for research in diverse fields as well as for basic computing services and teaching. Helix is expected to become operational in mid-2021, and it will be utilized in particular by the life and natural sciences as well as the computer-aided humanities. 

The new supercomputer offers researchers several advantages: 

  • a broadening of disciplines and users of the existing bwForCluster systems 
  • increased user support - while maintaining the established, cross-site bwHPC competence centers 
  • cross-system workflows (compute + data) enabled by a high performance connection to LSDF2  
  • effective synchronization of data storage, data management and compute capacity 

High-performance computing as an important foundation for cutting-edge research 

Many present-day scientific questions are unanswerable without the use of high computational capacity. The new supercomputer will be used, for example, to model complex systems and calculate them using numerical simulation methods or to evaluate large volumes of raw data intelligently and at a high speed.  

“High-performance computers have become the core catalysts for gaining knowledge in many research disciplines. With their help, complex issues can be made tangible and understandable, and models can be made extremely precise and refined,” said Prof. Vincent Heuveline, executive director of the URZ and CIO of Ruperto Carola.