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Journey into the bowels of ‘Finis Terrae III’, Spain’s other super-brain | technology


Blue neon signs and a penetrating buzzer that can only be extinguished with insulating helmets announce his arrival at Finis Terrae IIIThe largest supercomputer in Galicia, and the second in Spain, is hidden in a discreet building on the southern campus of the University of Santiago de Compostela. In a space next to the darkroom that houses this giant brain with a computing power of 4.36 petaflops – made up of 714 processors with a total of 22,848 cores and 157 GPU math accelerators in continuous dialogue through the HDR 100 infiniband – its predecessor has survived in the history of the Galician Supercomputing Center (CESGA).

Although the vast majority of users are already working with the third version of the Galician superbrain, awarded in 2021 to Atos, the Finis Terrae II (Opened in 2015 to ease FinisTerrae I(2007) still provides services to various institutions, companies or research teams that have not yet migrated. Among the humiliated young workforce, the older home worker — who makes up more than the average age of engineers, mathematicians, and physicists in their twenties — still remembers the insulation work in which the power line was covered in megawatt “lead” and half of what goes under Earth. Only veteran Miguel Ars was present when Manuel Fraga opened CESGA in May 1993, thus becoming Spain’s first supercomputing center. At the end of last September, almost 30 years later, it was another head of the same party in Xunta, Alfonso Rueda, who visited and inaugurated the new Galician supercomputer.

All the numbers and all the highlights of the first Finis Terrae, so named, among other things, because of the 85 kilometers measured by its wires – the distance between Compostela and Fisterra, the end of the world for the Romans – and the supercomputer that came later had already been crushed. The third supercomputer doubles the capacity of the previous version by 12 and can solve 4,360 billion calculations per second. It contains a 5PB disk storage system and a 20PB tape library, as well as a 30 qbit quantum computing simulator which is the first of its kind in Spain. Although the authorities have just officially cut the tape (in the presence of the Vice President for Scientific and Technical Research of the Supreme Council for Scientific Research, José Maria Martel), in fact it is Finis Terrae III It has been serving Galician scholars and researchers at CSIC and a long list of projects from all over Europe for months. It is already an essential tool for missions as diverse as those of genomic research centers, constantly updating weather forecasts or monitoring successive variants of Sars-CoV-2 that are putting the planet on edge.

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The Galician team is part of the infrastructure group that makes up the Single Scientific-Technical Facility (ICTS) of the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES), woven by 14 centers across the country. The supercomputer is ahead of Finis Terrae and always on top Marie Nostrom, from BSC (Barcelona Supercomputing Center). Treatments Marie Nostrum 4 (2017) It can generate a maximum power of 11.15 petaflops (the unit of measure for supercomputers), which means it can perform more than 11,000 trillion operations per second, 10 times more than its previous version, Mare Nostrum 3 Now, as happened in the case of a computer Giant Compostela, Atos is the company responsible for creating a project Marie Nostrum 5, which will have a maximum throughput of 314 PFlops (or another way, it will run 314 trillion calculations per second), more than 200 petabytes of storage, and 400 petabytes of active files. This pre-exaccalar supercomputer, with the new headquarters designed to house it, is set to be one of the three most powerful machines in Europe and will be used in particular to advance medical research in creating new drugs, developing vaccines or simulating the spread of viruses, artificial intelligence applications and big data analysis .

But if this mighty beast of BSC requires an investment of 200 million, then the acquisition of the Galician machine costs seven. The Finis Terrae III It was funded by FEDER funds (80%) and the contribution of entities represented in the CESGA Foundation: the Government of Galicia (15%) and CSIC (5%). These two institutions have been involved in the project since its inception, when in 1992 they signed the agreement to build the main campus on the campus. However, from those beginnings that are remembered by the biggest team in the team to the present, everything here has changed a lot. The last thing that changed, except for the brain, was the director: in March, Luis Orosa, a communications engineer without a tie and with him superhero Sculpted in the important quarry of the University of Vigo, Ph.D. in architecture and computer technology, which later acquired a patina working all over the world (Israel, Ireland, Holland, United States, Lisbon, Brazil and Switzerland). Until, unexpectedly for him, when he was in Zurich as a senior researcher, he received a call from CESGA to return as managing director to the city where he was born 40 years earlier.

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The applications of the supercomputer are almost endless, and suppose one has only to look at the diverse list of more than 200 entities that have already benefited from the device through contracts or cooperation agreements signed with CESGA. They appear there from the Galician Society of Ornithology to the Galician Audiovisual Bloc, by EDF, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands, and the weather station in the Doñana or Municipal Park. Modena.

The Finis Terrae III Provides support, computing and storage infrastructures to public entities such as the Augas de Galicia in assessing flood risks based on forecasts of flows and drafts. and also to the Galician Foundation of Xenomic Medicine for its clinical analyzes and research. It is used for oceanographic forecasting – by 27 variables of sea state – in the Atlantic (from northern Ireland to sub-Saharan Sahara) and the Mediterranean to the east of the Balearic Islands by the Copernican Service, or by the Madeira Oceanographic Observatory and the Spanish Institute of Science oceans. The Galician supercomputer is the computational weapon of various genome-analytics companies such as Genome4Care, in their research on rare diseases, or companies dedicated to the technological development of telecommunications such as Gradiant.

Finis Terrae III consists of 22,848 cores.
Finis Terrae III consists of 22,848 cores.Oscar Coral

Many international and national users enter CESGA through CSIC, which is part of the Board of Trustees; Others, such as Meteogalicia, the regional weather forecasting service, arrive via Xunta. But the scientific community and companies can submit their own projects to access the supercomputer, just as CESGA chooses calls from all over Europe to present its technology and specialization of its staff. There are 46 workers, overwhelmingly male the supercomputing center aspires to balance.

CSIC had 185 active user accounts on CESGA in 2021 from 41 centers, institutes, and laboratories of various disciplines. These researchers announced that they had produced 104 articles for scientific publications and implemented, using the CESGA infrastructure, 75 research and development projects in 2021.

through nuclei Finis Terrae III They face problems with the complete automation of lumber or canneries. Using a specific program, the DNA sequences that enter fragmentary from analysis laboratories to the supercomputer are configured or algorithms are developed to train artificial intelligence models. The patterns, states, or processes that occur in the natural world are researched, in order to develop drugs and new materials, or to predict the behavior of organisms, the environment, or the climate in a global warming scenario. The accumulation and intersection of data, for example, is causing a Galician researcher to currently study which drugs cancer patients respond to best according to the clinical profile of each. memory super brain It houses the largest and most accurate simulation of the recreated universe to date (UCHUU), which was co-developed by the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia, and at the same time, also through CSIC, supported studies on the survival of Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus on different surfaces, led by the Institute Barcelona for Materials Science.

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