Russia to expand supercomputer network to regions

Russia to expand supercomputer network to regions
Photo: kremlin.ru

The United States and China are the leaders in the global ranking of supercomputer systems, while Russia has only 3 machines in the world’s top 500, all of them in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin announced plans to expand a high-tech network of supercomputer and data centres to Russian regions during his visit to Cherepovets Chemical Engineering College last week.

Multiple new supercomputers may soon be built in Russia, as development lags behind the US and China, says Newsweek. The idea was proposed by Andrey Yurchenko, the head of the Information Technologies department at the Institute of Computational Technologies, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk. “[We should] develop a network of powerful supercomputing centres so that they are located not only in Moscow but also in St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Vladivostok,” he stated. According to Yurchenko, Russia needs not only super-powerful centres but also “the second level”, which can become a base for the creation of “data factory” networks. Siberia accounts for 15% of high-quality scientific publications in Russia despite having less than 2% of overall resources, said the scientist.

President Putin agreed with a multi-tier system but said that regulators still needed to evaluate the plans. “All this is in our plans. But it is necessary that the regulatory authorities monitor this very carefully and that appropriate monitoring of implementation is established. The whole system should be evenly distributed over territories […] where there is intellectual potential,” said the president.

US Sierra supercomputer is ranked second in the world. Photo: US Department of Energy

According to a report published in November 2019, Russia has three of the top 500 supercomputer systems in the world, while China and the United States have 228 and 117 of them respectively. The world’s top two supercomputers are American Summit and Sierra. Number three is China’s Sunway TaihuLight. Russia’s top supercomputer Christofari is ranked only 29 in the list. Another Russian supercomputer, Lomonosov-2, is housed at the Moscow State University, while the third one is linked to a computing centre of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring and also located in the capital.

In January 2019, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) unveiled a new AI research supercomputer dubbed Zhores. “This computing system will help Skoltech researchers and its academic individual partners to make breakthroughs in a whole range of fields: digital medicine, Internet of Things, precision farming, image processing, processing new medications, smart cities, predictive technical maintenance, photonics and the search for sources of X-rays and gamma rays,” commented Skoltech professor Sergey Rykovanov. However, Zhores, like other Russian supercomputers, uses technologies imported from Western companies, such as Nvidia.

By Anna Litvina