Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC)
On January 16, 2014, the Flemish Supercomputer Center and Hercules Foundation will organise a first VSC user day. This will be a platform for all users of HPC infrastructure in Flanders (both of academia and industry) to showcase their achievements, meet the people behind the VSC organisation, discuss, help and direct the future of HPC in Flanders.
Venue will be "the international auditorium" in Brussels. Official announcements will follow. Mark the date in your agenda, and be there!
From the Flemish Researchers' point of view, investment in supercomputers, the specialized support and exchange of expertise should be centrally coordinated. With this purpose a Flemish supercomputer center, Vlaams Supercomputer Centrum (VSC) was created. The VSC is a consortium of the five Flemish universities: K.U.Leuven Association, Ghent University Association, Universitaire Associatie Brussel, Antwerp University Association and Associatie Universiteit-Hogescholen Limburg. The VSC is funded by the Flemish Government, Department of Economy, Science and Innovation and the Hercules Foundation.
The mission statement of the VSC is:
- The development and management of centrally coordinated computing facilities in Flanders to propel the Flemish researchers, the Flemish technology institutes and industrial R&D.
- Continued build-up of expertise and skills and provide necessary support for new and advanced users.
- The VSC is looking to join European projects; it follows and supports the European view on supercomputing.
Since the beginning of this century, both the Flemish government and the Flemish research institutes took many initiatives to build up an adequate supercomputer infrastructure. The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts (KVAB) and the e-Research Steering Committee published an assessment of the need for a dynamic High Performance Computing strategy in Flanders.
For the development and integration of supercomputer infrastructure and to build up a workforce at the Flemish research institutes, the Flemish government awarded a €2.4M grant early 2009.
Based upon the advice of the Hercules Science Commission, the VSC consortium submitted a proposal that was aligned with the European HPC vision. In 2009, the Hercules Foundation awarded a grant of €2.1M which was supplemented in 2009 and 2010 with FFEU funding (Financieringsfonds voor schuldafbouw en Eenmalige Investeringsuitgaven) of respectively €5.2M and €5M. The institutes that are part of the consortium co-finance for a total amount of €12M.
To ensure the consortiums' business as usual in the second part of 2011, the Flemish government granted an additional €500,000.
To obtain a more structural funding a new business plan for 2012-2016 was submitted early 2011 to the Flemish government. Such a perpetual funding is really necessary to efficiently plan investments and build up a proper workforce. Although the structural funding is still pending, operational funding for 2012 (€1.5M) is already provided for by the Flemish Government.
The contract for the design and installation of the first Flemish supercomputer was awarded to HP in Jan. 2012. In the fall of 2012, the system should be fully operational. The price tag of the system is €4.2 million, and the system will find its home in the data center of Ghent University (site Sterre).
The system made its entry in the world-wide Top500 list of supercomputers of June 2012 at rank 118, with a peak performance of 152.3 TFlops.