Check out Arctur-2, one of the first supercomputers Chinese company Sugon built in Europe
By Aljosa Milenkovic
Chinese company Sugon is one of the world's leading producers of supercomputers. Now it has entered the European market by building the Arctur-2 supercomputer in the Slovenian town of Nova Gorica with Slovenian partners.
Just a few years ago, the building which now hosts supercomputer Arctur-2 was an old and dilapidated warehouse, but it is now home to the Europe's only privately owned supercomputer.

Supercomputers to the masses

Those who speak binary code might understand "teraflops" and "CPU cores" – and appreciate the unit's storage capacity.
For the rest of us, suffice it to say, this is one impressive machine. And in all its glory and might, Arctur-2 can do 30 teraflops, or 30 trillion computational steps per second, and has 1,008 CPU cores and 1.5 petabytes of the memory.
For an instant comparison, an Intel core i9 (one level better than the well-advertised i7) CPU has 18 cores and a capacity of a single teraflop. The chip is now sold at around 1,000 US dollars.
As Tristan Pahor, Arctur Data Center manager, explains, supercomputers do not look like how they are presented in popular culture.
"A supercomputer is not one big box, but is made out of a number of servers, very powerful servers which are connected via a very fast computer network, and connected like that, they make a supercomputer. So, a supercomputer is not one big black box, but it is composed [of] multiple parts."
Tristan Pahor, Arctur Data Center manager /CGTN Photo

Tristan Pahor, Arctur Data Center manager /CGTN Photo

So, this is not just one oversized calculator, though we must say it still bears a resemblance to some of its Hollywood cousins. The Arctur-2 is not the infamous "HAL 9000" from the legendary Stanley Kubrick movie "The Space Odyssey," but just an ordinary 21st century supercomputer, which can do all the necessary calculations for those who need some extra potency. And of course, it’s for those who can afford its weighty rental fee.

Who needs them

Supercomputing services are mostly required by the companies which need to test the designs of their products before they enter production, like aircraft and automotive manufacturers. Its computer simulations can dramatically decrease costs associated with product development. It is also used for weather forecast models and simulations, as well as any calculations related to the dynamics of fluids.
That market niche was recognized by Tomi Ilijas, who is the man in charge of Arctur.
Tomi Ilijas, CEO & President Arctur /CGTN Photo

Tomi Ilijas, CEO & President Arctur /CGTN Photo

He began this project some 10 years ago in his birth town of Nova Gorica in Slovenia with Arctur-1. Now, in collaboration with the Chinese company Sugon, Arctur-2 was installed with the total investment topping five million US dollars.
And Tomi explained why he decided to go with Sugon in this major project.
"Sugon is the fourth largest high-performance computer manufacturer in the world, and the largest in Asia, the largest in China. So, at that time they didn't have any installation in Europe. So, it was their good move in the marketing sense, and also from our way, because we got very good price at the time, and we signed a long-term partnership," said Ilijas.
He also added that continued investment will be needed since rapid advancements in technology mean he'll need a new supercomputer about every five years. But with expanding demand for supercomputing services around the world, Ilijas and his crew at Arctur are overwhelmingly optimistic about the future.