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Pillepich, Annalisa
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Annalisa Pillepich wins Golden Spike Award

October 14, 2019

Annalisa Pillepich, group leader in the Galaxies and Cosmology department of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, has won the “Golden Spike Award” handed out by the High-Performance Computing Center, Stuttgart (HLRS). Each year, the award honours the three most excellent projects that have performed computations on the center’s clusters. Pillepich, together with her colleague Dylan Nelson from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, won the award for TNG50: a high-resolution simulation of galaxy evolution from the Big Bang to the present day.
Three winners of this year’s HLRS Golden Spike Award. Left to right: Thomas Kuhn, Konstantin Fröhlich and Annalisa Pillepich Zoom Image
Three winners of this year’s HLRS Golden Spike Award. Left to right: Thomas Kuhn, Konstantin Fröhlich and Annalisa Pillepich

When a simulation or a particularly difficult bit of data analysis is performing a particularly difficult calculation on a high-performance computer cluster, you are likely to see a spike – a maximum in the usage of computing resources. In 1998, the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart established the “Golden Spike Award” to honour particularly ambitious and successful projects running on the Center’s computers.

This year, one of the three Golden Spikes goes to the two co-leaders (co-PIs) of the TNG50 project: Annalisa Pillepich, group leader in the Galaxies and Cosmology department of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, and her colleague Dylan Nelson from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching. Their TNG50 simulation, which traces the evolution of galaxies from the beginning shortly after the hot Big Bang phase, 13.8 billion years ago, to the present, required 16320 independent processors (computing cores) to run around the clock for more than a year, for a total of more than 130 million processor hours. TNG50 is part of The Next Generation Illustris (IllustrisTNG) set of cosmological simulations, and is the first simulation to combine such a large volume of space (allowing for statistical inferences) with such a level of detail.

The High Performance Computing Center was established in 1996 as the first national German High Performance Computing (HPC) center. It is a research and service institution affiliated to the University Stuttgart, offering services to academic users and industry. The TNG50 project had applied for time at HLRS because their top-of-the-line super computer Hazel Hen, a Cray XC40 with 7712 nodes, corresponding to a total of 185,088 cores, was particularly suited for the calculations at hand.

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