ENEA, EUROfusion and CINECA signed an agreement which provides for an investment of 50 million euros over 5 years to build a latest generation supercomputer for fusion energy research. The new High Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure, capable of performing approximately 47 million billion operations per second, will be installed at the Cineca headquarters in Casalecchio di Reno (Bologna) at the end of 2023 and will become part of the ecosystem of the Bologna Technopole. It will be dedicated to the numerical simulation of plasma physics and the structural analysis of advanced materials for nuclear fusion, a safe and sustainable energy source for future generations.
The new HPC facility will bridge the EUROfusion scientific community to the Italian ecosystem of international relevance and strategic importance for Europe in the Bologna Technopole, sitting alongside the computing facilities for weather and climate forecasts of the European center ECMWF and the European supercomputer Leonardo managed by Cineca and financed by the Italian Ministry of Universities and Research and the Joint Undertaking EuroHPC.
The agreement forsees the deployment of a 47 petaflops supercomputer consisting of a general purpose partition (13.6 petaflops) and an accelerated partition (33.7 petaflops), as well as an additional smaller computing system. This will be complemented by support activities enabling the European fusion scientific community to make best use of these systems in their research.
“We are delighted with the implementation of this advanced High-Performance Computing infrastructure, which will help to reinforce our position as leaders in fusion energy research”, shared EUROfusion Programme Manager, Tony Donné. “We are equally pleased,” he adds, “to continue our fruitful partnership with ENEA and CINECA in the provision of HPC resources to the EUROfusion community. This collaboration has enabled groundbreaking research and innovation, and we look forward to further advancements together”.
“With this new project, CINECA confirms itself as one of the most important supercomputing centers at the international level and the Tecnopolo di Bologna ecosystem as one of the largest concentrations of high-performance computing systems worldwide,” comments CINECA President Francesco Ubertini. “This agreement,” he adds, “is the continuation of a collaboration begun in 2016 to extend a partition of the Marconi supercomputer to the nuclear fusion science community. In 2020, the Marconi system was ranked among the top 10 most powerful in the world, paving the way for the realization of the Leonardo project, now ranked 4th in the world, and the creation of this new supercomputer dedicated exclusively to fusion research”.
“With the agreement just signed, ENEA and CINECA reinforce their primary role at the international level in the provision of high-performance computing services for fusion energy research,” stresses Alessandro Dodaro, director of ENEA's Department of Fusion and Nuclear Safety Technologies and the Agency's contact person for the agreement. “In order to adequately respond to the needs of the EUROfusion community,” he adds, “the ENEA Department of Energy Technologies and Renewable Sources together with the Division for the Development of Systems for Information and Communication Technologies have contributed to elaborate technical specifications based on the most modern and innovative computing architectures”.
Fusion is the so-called 'energy of the stars'. European fusion researchers aim to use the same process to safely and 'cleanly' produce energy here on earth. This technological and scientific challenge may make it possible to move away from fossil fuels and even reverse climate change. The fusion reaction was first reproduced on Earth in the 1950s, and since the 1960s experiments have been continuously carried out to establish the foundations for a fusion power plant. To date, the largest international fusion research project is ITER, currently under construction in Cadarache, France. ITER is a collaboration between seven parties (European Union, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States) representing 50 percent of the world’s population and 85 percent of global GDP. The goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy production at commercial scale and to demonstrate the integration of technologies necessary for power plant applications. Italy is contributing to the path toward fusion energy with the DTT (Divertor Tokamak Test) project, the machine under construction at ENEA Research Center in Frascati (Rome).