MeluXina & LuxProvide: What it Takes to Run a Supercomputer

Luxembourg’s answer to HPC management came as a public-private partnership

What does it take to set up, host and run a supercomputer? Who do you call for the operational and technical know-how required? In Luxembourg’s quest to secure MeluXina, the country’s newly operational10-petaflop supercomputer, it once again looked to a public-private partnership: LuxProvide, a subsidiary of LuxConnect under the governance of Luxembourg’s Ministry of State and Ministry of Economy. LuxProvide’s Matthieu Lefebvre, Group Leader, Supercomputing & Data Solutions, takes us behind the scenes of MeluXina.

1) Why was LuxProvide launched?

Simply put, LuxProvide was launched to host and operate Luxembourg’s supercomputer.

We are seeing a race for companies to develop tools, products, and solutions harnessing data and algorithms, including AI. It can be difficult, especially for smaller companies to access suitable infrastructure and expertise. LuxProvide, as a center for high-performance computing, high-performance data analytics and AI, is an answer to these concerns.

2) What is unique about LuxProvide’s structure?

HPC centers have existed in Europe for a long time. To the best of our knowledge, they have almost exclusively been setup as public entities. Their core mission has always been to support public research, coming either from universities or public research centers. While it’s true that they are trying to address industry needs, their very structure and mindset make it hard to address the concerns and needs of companies.

On the contrary, as a subsidiary of LuxConnect under the governance of the Luxembourgish government, we have the ability to quickly and independently meet the needs of diverse user segments.

3) What makes LuxProvide the ideal entity to oversee MeluXina?

Operating a supercomputer is more than the pure administration of an IT system. Because of its complexity, dedicated support and expertise are critical.

We’ve put a lot of effort into recruiting well-known experts to run MeluXina, starting with our two CEOs: Roger Lampach, CEO of LuxConnect, has been serving Luxembourg’s data center and dark fiber needs for years, while Pascal Bouvry, professor and eminent researcher, founded the University of Luxembourg HPC service.

On the technical side, its our operational expertise and solutions that set us apart.

Our system administrators bring years of experience dealing with some of Europe’s fastest supercomputers. LuxProvide’s engineering team is mostly composed of PhD holders with expertise designing HPC, HPDA and AI solutions. They understand the language of customers and how to architect suitable, scalable solutions that take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies.

4) How are MeluXina & LuxProvide helping Luxembourg innovate?

LuxProvide and MeluXina are part of the bigger plan to bring Luxembourg to the forefront of the digital transformation. It is therefore important to participate in educational efforts. That is why LuxProvide is part of Luxembourg’s national competence center, together with the University of Luxembourg and LuxInnovation.
To attract users and showcase the opportunities created by HPC systems, LuxProvide created an early access program targeting advanced HPC users.

Over the past months, through discussions with multiple Luxembourg-based companies – and in collaboration with LuxInnovation, we have refined our understanding of the needs of companies. As a result, we have been designing a catalogue of trainings allowing Luxembourg companies to upskill their workforce in HPC, HPDA & AI.

5) Can you tell us more about the HPC projects you have received?

LuxProvide received 38 submissions for early access, which were evaluated based on their ability to utilize a full MeluXina module or a sizable proportion of multiple modules. Importantly, we select projects that exhibit the potential to impact science, economy and society.

Those proposals came from twenty companies, of which 84% are Luxembourg-based. Forty percent of the applicants are private companies, 47% represent universities and 16% are active in public research. The University of Luxembourg submitted 11 proposals, the National University of Singapore submitted three, the Nanyang Technological University submitted two and the Indian Institute of Information Technology Kottayam and Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) each submitted one.

Among the private companies that applied, we received projects from the space, manufacturing and environmental sectors.

6) Why is it so important that these projects impact science, economy & society?

HPC has the power to significantly impact the world in which we live, and that’s something we keep in mind as we select projects. As an entity that works closely with the Luxembourgish government, it was important to everyone involved that whatever innovations benefit from HPC, in turn have the potential to benefit all of society.

We want to see innovators apply HPC to large challenges and produce global, big-picture solutions.

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