Academic Supercomputing in Europe
Population: 16.3 million
NCF - an independent foundation under the umbrella of the
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) - is in charge
of the national policy on academic supercomputing and coordinates and
promotes the use of advanced computing facilities.
One of NCF's key policy items is to provide the academic community with
access to top-of-the-line supercomputer resources. To achieve this goal
NWO has since 1990 fully financed the acquisition and subsequent
upgrades and replacements of a national academic supercomputer for
scientific research. For the same purpose NCF also co-finances the
innovation of the national academic research network to ensure
high-speed connectivity of Dutch universities.
Long term funding for the installation, running costs and future
upgrades or replacements of the national supercomputer facilities is
provided by NWO. The basic funding level is €5.6 million per
year, not including additional and ad hoc funding for special
The larger non-academic research institutes and industry can have
access to the national facilities, but this is incidentally used.
NCF spends €0.7 million per year for auxiliary policy as
matching funds for the purchase of systems at academic HPC centres.
NCF supports grid development and deployment in the Netherlands through
investments in grid infrastructure. A project that started in 2002 is
NL-grid, a cooperation of NCF, SARA, NIKHEF, ASTRON and ASCI, that has
created a national infrastructure for grid applications. In the period
2004-6 NCF will invest €2.8 million in grid infrastructure.
The national policy on networking for the research community has
been established by the SURF foundation - the higher education and
research partnership organisation for network services and information
and communications technology - whose members are the universities,
schools for higher professional education, research institutes and
national organisations for research and education. Network innovation
is funded by the government on a project/programme basis. The users of
the network finance its annual running costs. The budget for 2004 is
The GigaPort Next Generation (NG) Network proposal received in
November 2003 €40 million funding from the Dutch government. Part
of this proposal is the creation of the new national academic network,
SURF strengthened in September 2002 the collaboration with her UK
pendant JISC. They developed an optical network between JISC, SURF and
Internet2 creating a London - Amsterdam - Chicago optical testbed.
Supercomputing facilities for the academia
- ASTRON (at RUG): IBM BlueGene/L (12288 IBM PC440 FP2/700)
- KNMI: Sun Fire 15K/48
- NIKHEF: Beowulf cluster (52 Xeon/2800), Beowulf cluster (14
PIII/933 + 128 AMD/2000), Beowulf cluster (100 PIII/800)
- NLR: NEC SX-5/8, NEC TX-7/16
- SARA: SGI Origin 3800/1024, SGI Altix 3700/416, IBM pSeries
690/192, Beowulf cluster (544 Xeon/3400), Beowulf cluster (72
- TUD: Beowulf cluster (64 PIII/1000)
- University of Groningen: Cray SV1e/32, Beowulf cluster (400
Opteron/2000), Beowulf cluster (132 P4/1700), Beowulf cluster (64 Xeon/2800)
- University of Leiden: Beowulf cluster (64 Xeon/3000), Beowulf cluster (64 Xeon/2670),
Beowulf cluster (36 Xeon/1700), Beowulf cluster (64 PIII/1000), Beowulf cluster/79
- University of Nijmegen: Beowulf cluster (14 P4/2800)
- University of Utrecht: Beowulf cluster (66 Xeon/2800), Beowulf
cluster (64 PIII/1000)
- UvA: Beowulf cluster (64 PIII/1000)
- UvA (at SARA): Beowulf cluster/168
- VU: Beowulf cluster (144 PIII/1000)
The SGI Origin 3800+Altix 3700 at SARA is the national supercomputer
facility. Many of the other systems in the list above are also
accessible through NCF for use by the academic community.
The figure shows for the past 5 years the development of the peak
performance of the #1 Dutch system and of the aggregate performance of
Dutch HPC systems.
National academic network
SURFnet5 - the national academic network - links the networks of
more than 250 organisations. The backbone is 20 Gbps. Most universities
and research institutes link at 1 Gbps and some at 10 Gbps.
The worldwide connectivity of SURFnet5 includes a 2.5 Gbps link to
GÉANT and 3X1 Gbps links to the USA
End 2005 SURFnet6, a hybrid network (IP and optical) will be operational.
Institutes can then connect at 10 Gbps and use dedicated lightpaths.
The NetherLight optical infrastructure is operational since January
2002. The Radio Astronomy institute ASTRON/JIVE has a dedicated DWDM
connection (32x2.5 Gbps) into NetherLight. The international
connectivity consists of the following lambdas: 2×10 Gbps to StarLight (Chicago, USA),
2×10 Gbps to CERN, 1×10 Gbps to CzechLight in Prague, 1×2.5 Gbps to NorthernLight in Stockholm,
1×10 Gbps to UKlight in London and 2×10 Gbps to New York.
The network is operated by SURFnet BV - a private not-for-profit
company owned by SURF. SURFnet's activities are restricted to higher
education institutes, research institutions including industrial
research, scientific libraries and academic hospitals.
Allocation of resources
Scientists from the academia who want to use any of the national
facilities may submit a proposal to NCF. Proposals are discussed in the
WGS - NCF's Advisory Committee - and are subject to peer-review. On
approval the applicant receives a grant in terms of resource units.
The DutchGrid platform aims to co-ordinate the
deployment of grids in the Netherlands and to offer a forum for
exchange of experiences. Today, 12 research institutions participate in
DAS-2 is a grid infrastructure consisting of 5 clusters, with a total
of 200 processors, distributed over 5 universities (VU, UvA, Leiden,
NL-Grid is a grid infrastructure currently consisting of a cluster at
SARA (72 processors), one at NIKHEF (132 processors) and the DAS-2
Acquisition and upgrade plans
- TNO (Delft): Cray XD1/36 ordered.
List of abbreviations
- ASCI Advanced School for Computing and Imaging
- ASTRON Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy
- KNMI Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, De Bilt
(Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute).
- NCF Stichting Nationale Computer Faciliteiten, Den Haag, (NWO
National Computer Facilities Foundation)
- NIKHEF National Institute for Nuclear Physics and High Energy
- NLR Nationaal Luchtvaart Laboratorium, Marknesse, (National
- NWO Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Den
Haag, (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)
- SARA Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam
- SURF Samenwerkende Universitaire Rekenfaciliteiten, Utrecht
- TUD Technische Universiteit Delft
- UvA Universiteit van Amsterdam
- VU Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
- WGS Adviescommissie Wetenschappelijk Gebruik Supercomputers (NCF)
Contacts and Addresses
Dr. P.J.C. Aerts
(director of NCF)
P.O. Box 93575
2509 AN Den Haag
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