HPC RIVR: Supercomputer in Maribor among the most powerful in the world


The central infrastructure of DIH UM is the HPC RIVR – a new supercomputer that will become one of the most important research tools in the new decade. At the end of 2019, we established our first HPC RIVR supercomputer, named Maister, which is the most powerful publicly owned supercomputer in Slovenia and the second most powerful in Slovenia in general (currently the most powerful supercomputer in Slovenia is only in the private company Arctur in Nova Gorica). Otherwise, Maister is just a prototype with which we at the University of Maribor are preparing to establish an actual HPC RIVR Vega supercomputer. We will establish this during 2020 and it will become by far the most powerful supercomputer in Slovenia, which will also be included in the list of the 100 most powerful computers in the world.

With a capacity of 240 teraflops per second, Maister ranks second behind the Arctur supercomputer, which has a capacity of 340 teraflops per second. After upgrading the supercomputer center with HPC RIVR Vega, the capacity will be as much as 10,000 teraflops per second.



Zoran Ren, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Maribor, explained that the new supercomputer places Slovenia alongside the most developed countries in the world. But this powerful computing machine will not only serve academic purposes, but will open up many opportunities in the scientific field that will be felt by just about everyone.

“The supercomputer will allow us to improve research in many areas. From deep learning, to artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, ”explains Ren.

The capabilities of the new computer are already being used to perform a number of demanding simulations, such as the simulation of a truck crashing into a guardrail, taking into account all possible factors. Such a simulation would be processed by the average computer in about half a year, and Maister performs it in about a day, Ren explains. With its help, they develop light metal roadside guardrails, which, despite their light construction, withstand a strong collision of a truck, and at the same time are much safer for drivers than the popular concrete fences.

The basis for smart cities

After the Vega supercomputer is set up, it will also be used to calculate detailed weather forecasts. Meteorologists will be able to predict the weather and weather inconveniences much more accurately and reliably. The supercomputer will also show its true usefulness in the development of smart cities and autonomous driving, based on data from thousands of sensors and gauges. All this data must be processed by the computer in real time and decisions can be made on the basis of the data.

It is not a local but a national project

Despite the fact that the new supercomputer center will be set up in Maribor, it is a project of national importance, Ren emphasizes. Its computing capabilities will be used by institutions from all over Slovenia, as well as outside Slovenia. For example, Maister already processes data from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. As Zoran Ren explained, the University of Maribor made a long effort to establish a supercomputer center, but due to the extremely high price of this type of equipment, this was impossible. The value of the investment is around 20 million euros, and the funds for it were provided by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.

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