Date: May 26, 2011, No. 43

Visualisation environment unique worldwide

Ground breaking ceremony for the extension of the high performance computing center

Almost exactly six years after it was opened, the high performance computing center building at the University of Stuttgart is getting a brother: a new research building is being constructed directly next to the existing building in Nobelstrasse 19, enabling the biggest high performance computing center in Germany to be combined at one location in the future. Thanks to the construction work with a volume of 5.46 million Euros, the employees of HLRS Research and Operation, who have been scattered at different locations up to now, will be able to link up together even more closely on the site of the high performance computing center. At the same time a visualisation environment, which is unique worldwide, will be created, enabling the researchers to interact directly with the high performance computer. In addition to this, the virtual workbench created in this way for research, development and design will be a great help to the cooperation partners from industry.

„With the extension of the high performance computing center, which will be followed by the next phase of the computer extension from 2013, the University of Stuttgart will be able to make the enormous computer capacities available, which will become necessary due to the progress in the numerical methods in the field of simulation technologies. Our excellence cluster Simulation Technology (SimTech) in particular will benefit from this in basic research. But new possibilities will also present themselves in applied research and research transfer, for example in the automotive field due to the greater proximity to the Automotive Simulation Center Stuttgart“, according to the University Principal Prof. Wolfram Ressel. Projects by HLRS in the field of sustainable mobility with the main focus on e-mobility to crash simulation, but also the research of new materials will be given a new boost. The director of HLRS, Prof. Michael Resch, said on this topic: „For the first time we will then have all researchers, developers and tools in one place in order to be able to work in a concentrated fashion on the challenges of the environment, health and energy".

The new two-storey research building, designed by the university building authorities, comprises a useful area totalling 1,380 square metres and directly links up to the east side of the existing building. The non-staggered façade is continued along Nobelstrasse; in the south the new building protrudes from the grid around an axis. This produces two cubes with almost equal areas. Recesses in the compact building result from the variously designed interior courtyards. Development zones flooded with light reduce the artificial light zones of the office areas. The new building is accessed via the existing main entrance of the computing center and an adjoining hall. This connects the old building, new building and the mainframe computer with each other and is a much used area for exhibitions and meetings.

Like its brother the new building is a steel skeletal construction from the ground floor upwards, whereby the supporting structure is reduced to a minimum. With the help of steel frames, the concreted ceiling panels hang between the filigree full steel supports. Without any additional substructure the circumferential glass façade is directly attached to the steel supports. The special feature of this construction is simultaneously the greatest challenge for a precise shell. The ceilings appear to be almost hovering over the filigree construction and the reflecting ceiling surfaces and convey a high level of transparency. Along with the planted roof surface, a colourful wild flower field is created south of the new offices.

Cave with six projection areas forming the core
The core of the new research building is a cave linked via three storeys. The cave is a cube, the six sides of which are made of glass and acrylic glass, whereby the sixth side is mobile and can be opened and accessed. In the inside a comprehensive room experience is created via a simultaneous projection on the cube surfaces. Through using this hexagonal cave, simulated scenarios can be depicted even more realistically than has been the case up to now. This is especially significant in the area of technical simulation in particular. In this way users are presented with their work in a more illustrative way. They can wander through their models or observe them interactively from all sides.
In summer 2011 HLRS will also be commissioning the German federal high performance computer. The system by Cray with a top performance of one petaflop per second will put the University of Stuttgart among the leaders again worldwide. When the building is commissioned in 2012, the next phase of the computer extension to then five petaflops will start simultaneously and the infrastructure will be renewed.

Further information can be obtained from Prof. Michael Resch, High Performance Computing Center, University of Stuttgart, tel. 0711/685-87269, email resch@hlrs.de