Universität Bonn

University IT and Data Center

HPC cluster "Marvin" opens registration on March 11, 2024

The time has come: "Marvin", the supercomputer of the University of Bonn installed in 2023, consisting of 192 MPP nodes with a total of 18400 computing cores and an additional 300 NVIDIA GPUs, will be available to all users of the University of Bonn (and its cooperation partners) from mid-March 2024.

Use of the new HPC cluster can be applied on the website of the HPC- and HPC/A-Lab-Team. The button for the registration form can be found under this link from March 11, 2024.

BONNET construction work at the cable route to Endenich

Upcoming Demolition work at the junction of the B56 and the BAB 565 (Endenicher Ei) by Autobahn GmbH made it necessary to relocate the university's cable routes in the immediate construction area at short notice. This affected several fiber optic cables between Poppelsdorf and Endenich, which form one of the main connections on the core network of the university network (BONNET). For the relocation, it was necessary to cut the existing cables (which consist of a total of around 350 optical fibers) in front of and behind the construction area and to re-route them via an alternative cable route, which was created together with Autobahn GmbH, and to reconnect them using so-called splice sleeves.

Autobahn GmbH specified a non-postponable time window from February 9 to February 23, 2024 for the relocation. Autobahn GmbH carried out preparatory construction work until February 9, 2024, and from February 23, 2024, the closure of the BAB 565 and subsequent demolition work on the "Endenicher Ei" bridge structure was scheduled. The challenge now was to organize and accommodate the extensive preparations, appointments with suitable service providers and the necessary material deliveries within the specified time frame.

Crucial data connections to Endenich were already and are still secured through path-redundant lines through the main building and the Römerstraße to Endenich.Non-redundant connections were switched to replacement lines via other cable routes as far as possible in order to keep outages in BONNET to a minimum. For a few connections, such as the fiber optic connection to the Klein-Altendorf campus, temporary interim solutions via other routes could not be made possible, so that an outage of one to two days had to be expected here. As part of the preparations, suitable points also had to be found for cutting the connection. The route shafts directly in front of and behind the construction area were not very suitable due to poor accessibility, which is also important for future work. In addition to good accessibility, the shafts must offer sufficient space to accommodate the splice sleeves and future extensions. Once suitable shafts had been found, route tests had to be carried out to ensure that the replacement cables could also be pulled through the routes to these shafts. The decision was also made in advance to pull so-called "speed pipes" into the routes instead of individual cables. These are thin empty conduits into which fiber optic bundles can later be blown over longer distances.  In the case of upgrades, this has the advantage that cables which are organised in distances  of 100 m, do not have to be lined in each shaft. This would always cause disturbances in public areas, which is why all attempts are made to avoid this. Blowing the optical fibers into existing speed pipes can be done over significantly longer distances, without having to open the shafts between the two ends of the route, which facilitates future works and upgrades at the connection to Endenich.

As part of the preparations, the distribution of the occupied and still free optical fibres across the various fibre bundles of the cable made it possible to carry out the splitting and re-splicing successively (12 fibres per fibre bundle). Compared to the logistically much simpler splitting and rerouting of the entire cable in one step, the successive splicing and in particular the simultaneous deployment of two splicing teams at both ends of the rerouting resulted in significantly minimised downtimes in BONNET.

On Friday, 16.02.2024 at 13:55, the time had come: the connection to the Klein-Altendorf campus was started and, thanks to the optimisation of the process, the changeover was completed in less than 15 minutes. The majority of critical fibres were then relocated on Saturday, 17.02.2024 between 07:00 and 15:00. Other, less critical fibres were relocated between 19 and 20.02.2024. As far as it could be integrated into the workflow, the necessary continuity measurements of the optical fibres were integrated into the splicing work, with a particular focus on the critical connections. Further measurements and the necessary follow-up work were then carried out over the following three weeks.

Introduction of JupyterHub

The University Computer Centre is now supporting the use of the multi-user data science platform JupyterHub, which allows users to work in their own interactive environment directly in the browser.

JupyterHub allows its users to use many programming languages (like Python, R und Julia)  in so-called Jupyter notebooks. Jupyter notebooks are standardised files that enable the creation, management and sharing of program codes.

This enables e.g. teachers, to provide their participants with a standardised but customisable learning environment via eCampus, without having to install software on the end devices first.
JupyterHub users automatically receive 5GB of storage space for their personal Jupyter server. Specifications such as CPU or RAM limits can also be set individually for course participants.

HPC-Cluster Marvin resumes testing mode

"Marvin", the supercomputer installed at the University of Bonn in 2023, is about to be released. The cluster, consisting of 192 MPP nodes with a total of 18400 computing cores and an additional 300 NVIDIA GPUs, which was unveiled to the public in a festive inauguration event on 20 October 2023, is now about to be released.

After technical difficulties during the cooling of the cluster, the first testing phase had to be interrupted from the beginning of December until mid-February. During these two months, intensive work was carried out to make the cooling system more reliable and to protect the cluster hardware and the running jobs in the event of incidents.

The operations team at the University Computing Centre is now pleased to announce that the additional security mechanisms have been successfully tested, meaning that the HPC cluster could be put back into operation on Tuesday, 13 February 2024. This marks the start of the second intensive test phase, in which highly experienced "power users" can use the cluster again for numerical simulations and at the same time report possible problems and hickups to the data centre's maintenance team.

This also means that the supercomputer nears its official release to the general user base: Registration for the use of the HPC cluster is expected to be open to all scientists at the University of Bonn and its cooperation partners from 11 March 2024.

IT classes in the summer term 2024

In the HRZ's own course room and online, courses on many IT topics will be offered to all university members also in summer term 2024. 

Special opening hours of our IT helpdesk during carnival

Special opening and service times apply for our IT helpdesk during Carnival:

On Thursday, 08.02.2024 (Altweiber) the IT helpdesk closes at 12:00.

On Friday, 09.02.2024, the IT helpdesk will close at 3 p.m.

On Monday, 12.02.2024 (Rose Monday), the IT helpdesk will be closed all day.

Significant security risks when using cloud-based services (E-Mail Clients and Backup)

Cloud-based email programs such as the new free Outlook app and other email client applications (please see below) can be used to transmit secret login data and email contents to third parties without notice (see news from December 6, 2023). The use of cloud-based email clients and backup services, therefore, poses a significant threat to data and information security at the University of Bonn, according to the IT security and Data Protection Officer of the university.

The fee-based Outlook programme (from Microsoft Office) is not affected and you can continue to use it. There are currently no security concerns here, as these applications communicate directly with the University of Bonn's email servers and no data is transferred to the Microsoft cloud.

In order to prevent the disclosure of access data and data leakage, the use of the following programmes, in combination with your Uni-ID, is not permitted for information security and data protection reasons and must be discontinued immediately, in accordance with the HRZ user regulations (see § 3 para. 2 clause 5):

What to do now?

If you are using one of the programmes listed above, please change the product immediately and then change your Uni-ID password.

The HRZ will block the retrieval of e-mails by cloud-based e-mail programmes from 30 March 2024 by taking appropriate technical measures. This means that you will no longer be able to receive or send emails via the programmes listed above.

Security issues using cloud-backup

Please note that the backup services offered by Google and Apple are highly problematic as well and must not be used, when they cause university data (including login data) to be transferred to external cloud servers.

BASIS only accessible in BONNET

Due to performance bottlenecks on the database servers, there are currently longer access times to our campus management system BASIS. In order to prevent a system failure, the functions "Notenspiegel" and "Veranstaltungen suchen" are currently not available. In addition, the BASIS campus management system can only be accessed from the university network (BONNET or via a VPN connection) from 18.01.2024 (to identify the causes of the load).

On our website and in the HRZ documentation you will find information and instructions on how to set up a network connection to the university network BONNET and an encrypted connection to the university network (VPN-BONNET).

We are still working hard on the problem and ask for your patience and apologies.

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