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BASF starts up new supercomputer

BASF has started up a new supercomputer at its Ludwigshafen verbund site in Germany. Like its predecessor, the new machine will be called Quriosity but will have three petaflops of computing power compared to 1.75. It will also be the largest supercomputer used in industrial chemical research.

“Digital technologies are among the most important instruments to further expand our R&D capabilities,” said Dr Melanie Maas-Brunner, chief technology officer. However, she added, the capacity of the old supercomputer was no longer sufficient and research projects have become more complex, which led to this decision. BASF will also use cloud computing for technical and operational flexibility where very high processing power is required.

The new Quriosity was manufactured by Hewlett Packard (HP) and it works with AMD processors. The cooling concept is based on absorbing heat in water internally, using this for cooling and transporting it away, thus reducing both energy and operating costs. HP will also refurbish the old Quriosity, with a recovery rate of over 95%. 

Since first being deployed in 2017, the previous Quriosity has carried out an average of 20,000 tasks/day. Among R&D projects it has enabled researchers to understand the composition of personal care products better and predict more precisely which ingredients harmonise optimally together; and, by using molecular modelling, has identified the most effective and environmentally sound crop protection compounds. At a larger scale, it has been used to optimise the fluid dynamics of plant components.

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