What can supercomputers do

Supercomputers: key technology of digitization

Greetings from the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Dr. Michael Meister (Member of the Bundestag), on the occasion of the inauguration of the HAWK supercomputer on February 19th, 2020 in Stuttgart.

The spoken word is valid.

Dear Prime Minister,

Dear Professor Ressel

Dear Professor Resch,

Ladies and gentlemen!

Why is high-performance computing important?

I am pleased to inaugurate the new high-performance computer "Hawk" with you today. I would like to give you my warmest greetings from Minister Karliczek.

High-performance computing (HPC) has revolutionized the way we do research. It makes modeling and simulation of many phenomena possible in the first place. And modeling and simulation have established themselves as indispensable tools in science. As the third pillar of science. In addition to theory building and experimentation.

Basic research is often unthinkable today without simulation processes on high-performance computers. The need for computing power is therefore extremely high. E.g. in energy research, climate research or astrophysics.

The computer here in Stuttgart also contributed to the first image of a black hole that was published last year: Simulations of the plasma in the extreme environment near the black hole allow us to understand what holds galaxies together at their core.

In application-oriented research, too, simulations enable new knowledge and innovations.

For example, to increase the energy efficiency of wind turbines. Which shape of the rotor blades is optimal? Simulations open up an efficient and cost-effective way here.

Scientists from the University of Stuttgart have carried out such calculations here at the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) - and achieved improvements in aerodynamic properties of several percent. With a ten megawatt turbine, even a few percent improvement means a lot more energy.

Therefore: high-performance computing is an indispensable key technology of digitization. It enables innovations in science and business.

In the future, modeling, simulation, data analytics, artificial intelligence and visualization will grow closer together. In this way we can investigate complex questions that were previously inaccessible.

How do we promote high and high performance computing?

We provide the users with the necessary computing power for this. In an international comparison, Germany is a top location for supercomputing:

Because the new computer here in Stuttgart is not alone. Together with Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, the Federal Ministry of Research is funding the "Gauß Center for Supercomputing". It includes the three locations of the most powerful computers: Munich, Jülich and Stuttgart.

Gauss Center - Investments

Together we are carrying out an investment program for high-performance computing. Alternating at all three locations. With a high degree of continuity: We have been investing around 50 million euros annually for over ten years.

This program ensures continuous further development of the three German supercomputing centers.

One of the strengths of the three supercomputers in Germany is the variety of computer architectures - because different issues require different hardware. In this way, we can guarantee an optimal range of calculations for a wide range of user projects.

Gauss Center - Support

We don't just promote hardware, but also “brainware”. The decisive success factor is the support of the existing users, the training and further education, and the introduction of new user groups.

We are also implementing this with the Gauß Center for Supercomputing. For example, through targeted support and expert mentoring for large projects. One key to effective collaboration is the development of new software - together with the users.

National High Performance Computing program

But we not only have the increasing need for central computers of the highest performance class. The amount of data is also increasing dramatically, and with it the demand for decentralized computing.

So in Germany we need a distributed and staggered system of high-performance and high-performance computers.

At the end of 2018, we signed a new federal-state agreement on “Research Buildings, Large Equipment and National High-Performance Computing” for these high-performance computers. Together with the federal states, we provide a total of up to 62.5 million euros annually for this purpose.

With the National High-Performance Computing (NHR) we are promoting a sustainable network of high-performance computers. In this way, we are strengthening the computing capacities at German universities. And thus address researchers at universities in a very targeted manner: Researchers at universities should be able to access the required computing capacity across Germany - across the board.

This complements the capacities available in the Gauß Center. We want to achieve close coordination and interlinking between the activities in the Gauß Center and in the NHR association. In this way we create an optimal offer in Germany for all areas of application and for all needs.

In the NHR network, the coordinated training and further education of users will also be a focus: in particular, of the next generation of scientists.

This is how we meet the challenges of the digitization of science. And we promote competencies for a key technology of digitization.

What are we doing for the industry?

High-performance computing is not only a crucial resource for questions in basic research. Access to secure and powerful computers is also essential for industry.

The words go back to Theodor Heuss: "Baden-Württemberg is a model of German possibilities." This applies at least to the high-performance computing center in Stuttgart:

It is a model of how high-performance computing can be made usable for business. It is the center that has long been building the bridge to economic application. It also brings this special role into the network of the Gauß Center for Supercomputing.

We want to strengthen the bridge to economic application in the future. We see great, untapped potential for the application of high-performance computing in business.

But the hurdles are high, especially for small and medium-sized companies. Because you don't just click together a complex simulation on a high-performance computer.

High-performance computing in Europe

With our funding in Germany, we are at the center of European activities. Growing international tensions remind us of the importance of technology sovereignty.

We want to continue to confidently use technology in Germany in the future. That means: design according to your own values ​​and use for our benefit. We have to do this together with our partners in the EU.

That is why we are bundling our activities in Europe for the area of ​​high-performance computing. We do this in the “EuroHPC Joint Undertaking” - together with the EU and the member states.

This is how we want, yes, this is how we can create a European, holistic HPC “ecosystem” - one that acts on an equal footing with the USA and China. This ecosystem secures the digital sovereignty of Germany and Europe in the long term.

EuroHPC is based on three pillars:

First: European networking and competence expansion, especially with the new Europe-wide “Competence Centers” - coordinated by the HLRS here in Stuttgart.

Second: The procurement of the latest supercomputers for Europe - for European researchers and for research and development in European industry. Access to this infrastructure is provided through an open selection process. Competitive, based on the criteria of excellence and relevance.

And third: promoting the development of European technology. This includes software, e.g. B. new simulations for industry. This includes hardware, e.g. B. European processors and demonstrators for supercomputers. With the aim of having competitive and application-ready technologies available at the end of the development process. That can compete with the best technology available on the market.

Technology sovereignty in Germany and Europe

To this end, we will support the next phase of the European Processor Initiative.

In Germany we support research projects for “future-proof special processors and development platforms”. This funding guideline is part of the National Processor Initiative, the aim of which is to develop technologies for processors that are required by users in Germany but are not available today.

This is intended in particular to build up expertise in areas in which electronics users in Germany could be exposed to the increased risk of losing unrestricted access to these technologies due to particular dependencies.

The funding guidelines are also part of the “Trustworthy Electronics” initiative of the Federal Ministry of Research's digital strategy. This initiative aims to guarantee the ability to design and manufacture trustworthy, safe electronic components and systems.

I want to emphasize at this point - and hereby I address in particular Mr. Meyer from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Mr. Silveira from AMD:

Our striving for technological sovereignty should not be confused with isolation. Your companies are also very welcome in the future.

That is why the Federal Ministry of Research also promotes research by numerous companies from the USA in Germany, which in this way gain access to the top know-how of German universities and research institutes.

Rather, technological sovereignty means developing your own skills in science and industry. So that a partnership exchange with the leading research institutions and companies worldwide is guaranteed.


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have a unique HPC infrastructure in Germany. We are one of the front runners in Europe. Not only in terms of pure computing power, but above all in terms of the breadth of the system architectures. This also applies to technology development and user support. The HLRS is an important part of it.

We want to continue to provide the best service for users from universities, research institutes and business in the future.

I wish you every success with the commissioning of the “Hawk”. I am convinced that it will be used for many exciting and innovative projects and that it will bring new insights.

Many Thanks!