Supercomputer for cutting-edge AI research in Hesse
The new AI supercomputer of the Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence (hessian.AI) is named fortytwo. This was announced today by hessian.AI, a center funded by three Hessian ministries with the goal of promoting excellent cutting-edge research in the AI field and making it more widespread. This includes central investments in AI compute infrastructures as well as services for users based on them.
fortytwo was designed and installed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) based on the Apollo 6500 system. The AI supercomputer is specifically designed to answer research questions and their applications in the context of the third wave of AI. The new computing cluster is specifically designed for machine learning and training large AI models. The 14.5 million project was significantly enabled by three Hessian ministries (the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts, the Hessian Ministry of Digital Strategy and Development, the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing) and the German Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Education (BMBF) through the AI Service Centers funding line.
In fortytwo‘s engine room, a total of 632 NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs, each with 80GB of memory, as well as four IPU units from Graphcore are performing their duties. These are distributed across 80 compute nodes, which are interconnected via an NVIDIA Quantum Infiniband high-performance network. To provide the system with data quickly, 1.2 petabytes of central flash storage (IBM Spectrum Scale) is available over the same high-performance network. The system’s measured peak performance is around 8 PFlops. This places the system among the top 100 supercomputers in the world.
In much the same way that the number 42 serves as the answer to “the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” in Douglas Adam’s classic “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the new supercomputer fortytwo will help researchers and users at the AI Center find new insights and answers to complex questions in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
fortytwo is hosted by the Green IT Cube on the GSI/FAIR campus in the north of Darmstadt. This is one of the most powerful scientific computing centers in the world. At the same time, it sets standards when it comes to saving energy: Thanks to its special design and efficient cooling system, it is particularly energy- and cost-efficient: the energy required for cooling amounts to less than seven percent of the electrical power used for computing. The TU Darmstadt and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research have maintained a successful cooperation in the field of joint use of infrastructures for research for many years.