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Supercomputers: Germany Must Remain Leaders

Research Centre Jülich strengthens "simulation sciences"

[22. Januar 2007]

Berlin / Jülich, 22 January 2007 - simulations using supercomputers will play a key role for innovations in science and industry in the future. This is one outcome of "Innovation Forum Jülich: Supercomputers", which Research Centre Jülich hosted today in Berlin. Chaired by WDR journalist Frank Plasberg ("hartaberfair"), the topic was discussed by NRW Innovation Minister Andreas Pinkwart, BMBF State Secretary Thomas Rachel MdB, Head Developer IBM Germany Herbert Kircher, and others.

"Investment in efficient infrastructures is a basic prerequisite for excellence in research and development", said Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel on the objectives of the Federal Research Ministry. "Supercomputers are a decisive key element of this infrastructure." NRW Research Minister Andreas Pinkwart emphasised the position held by the Research Centre when he referred to Jülich as "a pillar of innovation policy in NRW".

Herbert Kicher of IBM's Development Centre sees a need for Germany to catch up in the way of the supercomputer as a large-scale research apparatus. "In order to be able to use these facilities, we need a pool of expert knowledge on hardware, software and applications. We need to create this pool today, but to do so, we need to make use of supercomputers in science and scientific education now", said Kircher before warning that "countries such as the USA and Japan, and even the United Kingdom, France and Spain, are investing heavily in supercomputers."

"Jülich has excelled in that it not only boasts supercomputers but also a unique scientific environment", said Prof. Achim Bachem, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Research Centre Jülich. "This allows us to achieve a unique added value in research as a whole throughout Europe. This leading position is one we must maintain." By extending computing capacities to the petaflop level in 2009, Jülich should emerge as a European supercomputer centre within the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research. Bachim is certain that "this will see the creation of globally unique research conditions for scientists in Germany and Europe".

"Supercomputers have long been the third pillar of research, alongside theory and experiment", emphasised Prof. Thomas Lippert, Head of the Jülich Supercomputer Centre. "Every new generation of supercomputers opens new doors of knowledge." Today, supercomputers are used in a variety of fields, including climate research, materials science and medical research. "In Jülich, we don't simply follow developments, we shape them", said Lippert.

Prof. Jack Dongarra warned of Germany being left behind in his presentation on the global development of simulation sciences: "Four years ago, there were 71 supercomputers in Germany; this year, there are only 17." This expert from the University of Tennessee is responsible for publishing the international supercomputer ranking list, the well-known TOP500 list.

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