September 17, 2021

Queen Máxima opens new supercomputer for Dutch science

It performs 14 billion calculations per second: the new national supercomputer Snellius. With the new supercomputer, Dutch researchers will be able to tackle even more scientific challenges, for example in the field of climate change or corona research. Queen Máxima revealed the supercomputer at Amsterdam Science Park.

During the festive opening, climate scientist Henk Dijkstra talked about the new opportunities that Snellius offers his research: “It allows us to answer new questions about what is happening to the climate as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases.  We can also make more detailed forecasts for the climate of the future, particularly the occurrence of extremes such as heat waves and excessive precipitation. You need a supercomputer because of the scale of the calculations and the amount of data involved. These kinds of calculations cannot be done on a laptop.”

Snellius is accessible to all Dutch scientists. The supercomputer is operated by SURF, the collaborative organisation for ICT in Dutch education and research, and is located at the Amsterdam Science Park. The system will be built in phases over the coming years and will eventually reach a peak performance of 14 petaflop/s (or 14 billion calculations per second). This makes it the most powerful high-performance computing system in the Netherlands. By using the latest generation of GPUs (graphics processing units), the computer is also very well suited to machine learning.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science “An enormous gain for science ”

Also speaking at the opening, outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven said: “This national supercomputer offers the possibility to perform complex calculations that give us more insight into how to tackle major issues. This essential scientific infrastructure is an enormous gain for science and for the Netherlands as a knowledge country. My compliments to SURF and the scientific community.”

NWO chairman Marcel Levi is also proud: “Every scientist needs computing capacity due to the digitalisation of all areas of science. Easy access to that computing capacity is essential for researchers in the Netherlands to continue doing top science in the future.”

Researchers’ need for computing power, data storage and processing is growing exponentially, says Walter Lioen, manager of Research Services at SURF. “The system must be suitable for all fields of science, from astronomy and research into climate change to medical and social sciences. In addition, it must be possible to expand the supercomputer flexibly in the future.”


An important requirement for SURF was that the new supercomputer should be as energy-efficient as possible. The water-cooling technology used cools the system down by up to 90%, requiring far less air cooling with fans. This reduces energy consumption and increases performance at the same time.

Following a tender process, SURF chose Lenovo at the end of 2020 to build the new national supercomputer. It will be built on the basis of Lenovo ThinkSystem servers with AMD EPYC™ processors (the latest generation, 7H12, and a future generation) and the latest generation NVIDIA GPUs (A100).

The new supercomputer was financed with 18 million euros by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (via NWO) and with 2 million euros from SURF’s own funds.

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