🇩🇰 Denmark to build one of the world’s most powerful AI supercomputers, accelerating solutions to societal challenges

By Arctic Business Journal - March 19, 2024
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Photo: Surasak Suwanmake, Getty Images.

Denmark is entering into a collaboration with NVIDIA to establish a national centre for AI innovation that will house one of the world’s most powerful AI supercomputers. The goal is to accelerate research and innovation in fields from healthcare and life sciences to the green transition, supporting the development of innovative solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

The collaboration is led on the Danish side by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Export and Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO). Researchers from Denmark’s public and private sectors will be able to gain access to a state-of-the-art NVIDIA AI supercomputer optimised for large-scale projects using AI, as well as world-leading NVIDIA software platforms, training, and expertise.

“Groundbreaking scientific discoveries are based on data, and AI has now provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate research within, for example, human and planetary health,” says Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. “Drug discovery, disease diagnosis, and treatment, as well as complicated life science challenges, are examples of areas where extreme AI computing power can enable the positive transformation of our society. The collaboration with NVIDIA and the resulting national AI innovation centre can help Denmark’s brilliant researchers and innovators rise to the next level.”

“This centre will have an immense impact on AI-based research and business development in the years to come”

— PEDER LUNDQUIST, CEO I EIFO

“In the current geopolitical climate, it is important that we strengthen our strategic positions,” says Morten Bødskov, Danish Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. “Our government is committed to enhancing Denmark’s global standing when it comes to cutting-edge technology alongside our unparalleled data resources. I am pleased to see both public and private sectors in Denmark investing in transformative technologies like supercomputers, which will undoubtedly boost our competitive edge on the world stage.”

Eviden, an Atos Group company and European leader in advanced computing, will deliver, install, and configure the supercomputer, named Gefion, later in 2024, and provide support with the start-up phase. The centre – called the Danish Centre for AI Innovation – is expected to be ready for pilot projects before the end of the year. The Novo Nordisk Foundation has committed approximately DKK 600 million towards the initial costs of the centre. EIFO has contributed DKK 100 million.

Opening doors to progress

Denmark’s new supercomputer – a large-scale NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD – is powered by NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs and interconnected using NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking. Denmark currently has no GPU-accelerated supercomputers. Relevant stakeholders across the country – including universities and ministries – have been consulted during the planning phases and agree that this is the main roadblock to progress in Denmark’s otherwise thriving AI-based research ecosystem.

The supercomputer and collaboration with NVIDIA will help enable Denmark to pursue large-scale projects in countless fields where AI is a valuable tool, as well as within AI research itself. In selected flagship project areas, researchers will be able to engage with expert teams at NVIDIA to co-develop solutions to complex problems. These include research in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology using NVIDIA BioNeMo, including protein design; the acceleration of the green transition; and the development of fault-tolerant (i.e. error-free) quantum computing using NVIDIA CUDA Quantum, an open-source hybrid quantum computing platform.

“AI and accelerated computing will drive significant advances in scientific innovation and discovery,” says Tim Costa, director of HPC and quantum computing at NVIDIA. “The Gefion supercomputer, powered by NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD, will be an essential tool for researchers in Denmark to drive discoveries in critical areas such as quantum computing, life sciences, and the green transition.”

‘Pioneering initiative’

The Foundation has established a public limited company – the Danish Centre for AI Innovation A/S – that will own and operate the supercomputer, with all revenue reinvested in the initiative. EIFO is a minority owner, holding 15% of the shares.

“This centre will have an immense impact on AI-based research and business development in the years to come,” says Peder Lundquist, CEO of EIFO. “It is an investment that will also impact the Danish economy and society in a broader sense, and EIFO is very pleased to be a part of this pioneering initiative. EIFO is already a significant investor in deep tech, and the collaboration with the Novo Nordisk Foundation aligns perfectly with our strategic focus on AI, quantum computing, the green transition, life science, and the commercialisation of research.”

Global data centre provider Digital Realty will host the supercomputer in one of its AI-ready facilities in Denmark. The data centre is designed and built to be sustainable and runs on 100% renewable energy.

The supercomputer will have the highest level of security and support Danish data sovereignty. Once fully operational, it will therefore be able to support projects involving sensitive data. No data will be stored permanently in the centre, and the centre’s users will be in full control of their data at all times.

Differential payment models are being developed that will balance commercial and academic use with the aim of meeting the centre’s current and future costs.

Further information

The new supercomputer is a large-scale NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD comprised of 191 NVIDIADGX H100 systems (individual computer systems) with a total of 1,528 NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs and 382 Intel Xeon Platinum CPUs connected via the NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking platform with

in-network computing. The system will also use state-of-the-art NVIDIA software platforms such as NVIDIA CUDA Quantum, which features powerful simulation tools and capabilities to program hybrid CPU, GPU, and quantum processing unit (QPU) systems.

The H100 GPU’s Hopper architecture – named after pioneering American computer scientist Grace Hopper – is designed to solve the world’s most challenging AI problems and is four times faster at training tasks on large language models like GPT-3 compared to its predecessor.

GPUs, originally used for gaming and graphics-oriented work, have seen explosive growth over the past decade, fuelled by the emergence of deep learning and generative AI models that run much faster and more efficiently on these units than general-purpose CPUs.

Eviden, the European leader in high-performance computing (HPC), will bring their vast experience and expertise in HPC integration and installation to this project.

Digital Realty is committed to designing and building sustainable data centres, minimizing community impact. They have achieved 100% renewable energy for their entire European and North American colocation portfolio. Digital Realty has a longstanding track record of operational excellence – exceeding 99.999% (the data industry measurement standard often referred to as five nines) of uptime across its global data centre platform for 16 consecutive years – and has committed a significant investment to continue to build and secure their global footprint of data centres, so customers may feel assured of the safety and compliance of their data.


Originally published on 18 March by EIFO.

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