BASF Enhances Research Capabilities with New Supercomputer Installation
AgTech Corporate

BASF Enhances Research Capabilities with New Supercomputer Installation

BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer, has initiated the operation of a new, considerably more powerful supercomputer at its Ludwigshafen site, replacing the previous one. With a staggering computing power of 3 petaflops, the new supercomputer dwarfs its 1.75-petaflop predecessor.

“Digital technologies are among the most important instruments to expand our research and development capabilities further,” shared Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, member of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer of BASF. Today, she explained, identifying the most promising polymer structures from thousands of possibilities necessitates above-average computing power.

The new supercomputer was constructed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and ran on AMD processors (CPUs). In addition, it features an innovative cooling concept reliant on warm-water cooling. The system effectively absorbs the heat directly from its source within the supercomputer, significantly reducing the energy required and operational costs. As a result, the new supercomputer, retaining its predecessor’s name, Quriosity, is globally the most powerful supercomputer employed in industrial chemical research.

In the past five years, Quriosity has played a crucial role in reducing the development time for innovative molecules and chemical compounds, accelerating the launch of new products. However, the previous supercomputer’s computing capacity was insufficient to meet the increasing complexity and demands of the company’s research projects, prompting the investment in a more high-performance computer.

Notably, the previous supercomputer will undergo refurbishment by HPE, achieving a remarkable recovery rate of over 95 percent.

BASF also plans to employ cloud computing power, in addition to the on-site supercomputer, when required. “This hybrid solution offers us the best possible technical and operational flexibility,” said Maas-Brunner. “It enables us to handle requests necessitating exceptionally large processing power and to work on special tasks outside the scope of our supercomputer.”

As a digital tool, the supercomputer has transformed research approaches at BASF. For example, the supercomputer can now complete calculations that took around a year in just a few days. This has led to reduced product development times and the identification and utilization of previously hidden connections, driving entirely new research approaches.

Since its deployment in 2017, the Quriosity supercomputer has been performing an average of 20,000 daily tasks and is used by more than 400 employees worldwide. It has aided in understanding the composition of personal care products, planning and optimizing reaction processes, and identifying environmentally friendly and effective compounds for crop protection products. It has also played a role in optimizing the fluid dynamics of plant components in production operations.

Image provided by BASF

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