Supercomputer Vega launched in Slovenia

Maribor – Supercomputer Vega was formally launched in Maribor on Tuesday, putting Slovenia on the global map of computer super powers. It is the first in a series of eight planned high-performance computing (HPC) centres in the EU.

Vega is a 6.9 petaflops supercomputer, which means it can do 6.9 million billion computing operations per second, and it cost EUR 17.2 million.

Currently the most powerful supercomputer in Slovenia has been set up as part of the national project to upgrade research infrastructure (HPC RIVR) and EuroHPC, a public-private partnership for European high-performance computing.

It is located at the Institute of Information Science (IZUM), whose director Aleš Bošnjak said there were currently only 13 countries in the world with more powerful supercomputers.

“Our supercomputing power is just behind that of the UK and before Russia’s,” University of Maribor Vice Dean Zoran Ren said at the online inauguration event. He believes it will enable Slovenian and European scientists outstanding discoveries.

European Commission Vice President in charge of digital transition Margrethe Vestager said the first supercomputer launched as part of EuroHPC was an excellent example of cooperation at various levels.

“Supercomputing will enable European small and medium-sized companies to enter the hi-tech economy of the future,” she said in her address via video call.

She also pointed to the role European supercomputers could play in supporting artificial intelligence to produce new medicines and save lives.

Janša, who had the honour of turning on the computer by symbolically pressing a red button, also highlighted the role such machines have in addressing contemporary challenges, including Covid-19.

“Vega will enable scientists to discover new materials and components, help them model global phenomena, discover new medicines and medical therapies in the fight against cancer and other serious diseases.

“It will also help companies, mostly those developing the most state-of-the-art products, for instance in pharmacy, car industry or energy. With these and similar steps the EU is resolutely threading the path of strategic autonomy,” he said.

Education and Science Minister Simona Kustec stressed top science, technology and advanced industry could develop only on the basis of top knowledge and infrastructure.

“The initiatives such as EuroHPC enable and encourage joint planning and investments in the European research area, thus further strengthening and connecting it.”

Vega is named after 18th-century mathematician and physicist Jurij Vega.

It was co-funded by the EU from the European Regional Development Fund, the Ministry of Education and Science and EuroHPC.

The EU’s other seven high-performance computing centres will be located in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.