NHR@FAU expands its resources for AI and Deep Learning

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently booming as a new and exciting component in research, which makes an adequate compute infrastructure pivotal for scientists. Although NHR@FAU currently offers state-of-the-art supercomputers, these resources will be insufficient to keep up with the expected future demand for AI and deep learning.

This makes it all the more pleasing  that the compute capability at FAU for AI workloads is going to be expanded substantially. To this end, the Free State of Bavaria provides considerable funding for new investments at NHR@FAU as a component of the High-Tech Agenda. The NHR@FAU will not only serve as an AI competence and computing center for FAU but also for other scientific institutions throughout Bavaria.

NHR@FAU and the Leibniz Supercomputing Center of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (LRZ) in Garching will receive a total of 55 million € in the two-year budget for 2024 and 2025. The money will primarily be used to procure bespoke AI hardware and operate various AI accelerators that are integrated into an application-oriented storage landscape. Furthermore, the NHR@FAU team will be expanded in order to offer scientists the best possible support. One goal is to give  researchers access to NHR@FAU systems within 48 hours of their request, or even faster in urgent cases.

The new investment also takes a stance for energy efficiency: Upcoming graphics processors (GPUs), the main workhorses for AI workloads, are not only optimized for performance but also for low energy consumption with AI applications. Furthermore, the NHR@FAU will utilize warm water to cool the new hardware, aiming to utilize a maximum of ten percent of extra energy for cooling. A plan for putting waste heat to use within FAU is currently in preparation.

With the new investments, NHR@FAU and LRZ establish themselves as AI data centers, serving the universities and research institutions in the state. The two centers are already collaborating on projects related to supercomputers and green power. Together with the Erlangen Regional Computing Center (RRZE), the NHR@FAU provides AI solutions and central storage systems. NHR@FAU, its new AI systems, and parts of RRZE will be housed in a brand-new building on Erlangen’s South Campus starting from 2030. The Free State of Bavaria is contributing up to 260 million € to the construction of this futuristic high-performance data center.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Wellein

Professorship for High Performance Computing, Head of NHR@FAU

Department of Computer Science
Professorship for High Performance Computing