The abbreviation HPC stands for ‘High Performance Computing’, i.e. extremely fast calculations performed using computers. The Danish research HPC landscape features three major HPC installations offering general opportunities for access. There are also a number of smaller installations in the country. The small installations are typically owned by individual research groups, and it is usually only possible to access them by specific agreement with the relevant group. Moreover, the universities have numerous installations purchased during the pervious DCSC regime, but these are set to be phased out over the coming years.
A distinguishing feature of supercomputers is that they consist of a large number of extremely fast computers linked together in a high-speed network. This means that a supercomputer is not actually one huge computer, but several large computers linked together. Depending on how the system is set up and the capacity of the software installed, it may be possible to work on a single computer or on multiple machines simultaneously.
When should you choose supercomputing?
The use of supercomputers is not only of interest to experienced supercomputer users, but also to researchers who currently perform calculations on their own machines and who want to run more calculations. Alternatively, they may be useful to users who need access to databases that they physically cannot—or are not allowed to—store on their own computers.
Why should you choose supercomputing?
Compared to simply running calculations on a standard laptop or desktop computer, there are numerous advantages to using a supercomputer:
- The calculations will be completed much more quickly, given that even the individual computers in the HPC installation are extremely fast.
- It is possible to work with much larger datasets.
- It is possible to work with databases to which you may not otherwise have access (such as the database concerning Danish internet use at the National Cultural Heritage Cluster (Det Nationale Kulturarvskluster) or bioinformatics databases on the National Life Science Supercomputer at DTU).
- Calculations can be placed in queues, allowing work to run 24/7.
- At times, it is possible to work with a great many computers at the same time—for example when new input data has been received, or when a new theory is to be tested. At other times, it may not be necessary to use the supercomputer at all. You only need to pay for the periods when you actually use the computer.
Which supercomputers can you use?
At national level, you can use all three of the supercomputers described below:
- National HPC Center, SDU
- National Life Science Supercomputer, DTU
- National Cultural Heritage Cluster, SB