Press Release 070/2023

40 Years of Supercomputing in Karlsruhe

In 1983, Today’s KIT Purchased the First Supercomputer
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HoreKa, the supercomputer currently operated by KIT, reaches 17 PetaFLOPS. This corresponds to the capacity of 21 million systems of the first Cyber 205 supercomputer purchased in 1983. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)

Cyber 205 was the name of the first supercomputer purchased by the then Universität Karlsruhe in 1983. It had a computing capacity of up to 800 MegaFLOPS. For comparison: The capacity of an average PC today is in the range of GigaFLOPS, i.e. a thousand times more. HoreKa, the Karlsruhe High-performance Computer of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), reaches 17 PetaFLOPS, which corresponds to the capacity of more than 150,000 laptops or about 21 million systems of the type Cyber 205. On Thursday, September 14, 2023, KIT did celebrate 40 years of supercomputing in Karlsruhe.  

When it was commissioned in mid-2021, HoreKa, the supercomputer currently operated by KIT, was among the 15 highest-performing computers in Europe and ranked 52nd of the top 500 fastest computers in the world (TOP500). As regards energy efficiency, HoreKa even reached 13th place in the international supercomputer ranking (Green500). “Today, researchers are using supercomputers as a matter of course to obtain a more detailed understanding of highly complex natural and technical processes,” says Professor Martin Frank, Director of KIT’s Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC). “Research areas include materials sciences, earth systems sciences, energy and mobility research, engineering, life sciences, and particle and astroparticle physics.”

KIT Has Already Operated More than 30 Supercomputers

The importance of Karlsruhe to academic supercomputing is a result of continuous development: Since 1983, KIT and its predecessor institutions, Universität Karlsruhe and Karlsruhe Research Center, have operated more than 30 supercomputers. As early as in the 1960s, computing centers were established in Karlsruhe for both researchers and students. 

The high-performance, large-scale and universal computers were constantly replaced by more modern and powerful models. The first supercomputer, a computer of the type Control Data Cyber 205, was installed in the computing center of Universität Karlsruhe in 1983. As it quickly worked to capacity, while the need for computing power increased, new supercomputers were purchased regularly. Cyber 205 computers were followed by computers of the VP and VPP series. “A milestone was the S600/20 computer that was ranked top in Germany in the first TOP500 ranking of 1993,” Frank says. 

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

mex, 11.09.2023


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Dr. Felix Mescoli
Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608 41171
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