High-performance computing and quantum computing

The use of high-performance computers and quantum computers enables the processing of enormous amounts of data and the calculation of highly complex processes. These technological possibilities are fundamental to the research carried out at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), as all research aims to investigate, better understand and further optimise complex processes.

High-Performance Computing

In addition to experiments and theoretical considerations, numerical simulation has become established in the study of complex processes. With the help of numerical simulation, complex systems or phenomena can be mathematically modelled and analysed in order to predict the behaviour of the system under investigation under different conditions.  

The high-performance computer CARO
The high-performance computer CARO (Computer for Advanced Research in Aerospace) in Göttingen was one of the most powerful 150 IT systems in the world when it was commissioned.

High-performance computing (HPC) plays a crucial role in numerical simulation, as complex simulations often require enormous computing resources. High-performance computing enables large amounts of data to be processed quickly and complex calculations to be performed efficiently. These include numerical flow simulations, stress-strain analysis, material design, shape optimization and condition monitoring of aerospace systems. Numerical simulations are also used for medical measurements, atmospheric research and safety research to protect people and infrastructure.

Since these applications are particularly demanding in terms of computational speed and data management, as well as being costly, they require elaborate software solutions. HPC is the superior computing method that enables complex calculations and processing of large amounts of data to be performed in parallel on powerful computers.

The DLR Institute of Software Technology deals with HPC in its entirety and provides software expertise as well as the know-how for the latest hardware requirements.

Quantum Computing

The DLR Institute of Software Technology is exploring the potential of quantum computers for solving complex challenges. In areas such as logistics, cryptography, energy systems, materials simulation, materials and battery research, radar technology, climate research, aerodynamics and optimal control, the use of quantum computers promises a significant improvement in the ability to solve highly complex problems that are difficult to solve with conventional computers.

We approach these challenges through three main areas of research:

  • We enable the efficient usability of quantum computing architectures that are already available, but are still prone to errors. To this end, we apply methods of error correction and avoidance as well as noise reduction. We also use hardware-specific compilation for increasing efficiency.
  • Furthermore, we are researching novel application-specific quantum algorithms, for example from combinatorial optimisation and the simulation of quantum systems.
  • Finally, we are developing a utilisation infrastructure that guarantees easy access to DLR's quantum computing resources.

We are particularly interested in the use of conventional HPC systems together with quantum processor units, which are used as accelerators for special tasks. One area of application is in materials research. Here, quantum processors allow the rapid simulation of quantum systems as partial models, while macroscopic material calculations can be carried out highly efficiently on conventional HPC systems.

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