Behind the Name: Hazel Hen, Hornet and Hermit

How do Cray customers name their systems? A look at the stories behind the names.

It all began with “Hermit.” A series of Cray supercomputers at the High-Performance Computing Centre (HLRS) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, have all been given names starting with the letter “H”. HLRS’s rules for system names are:

  1. Must start with “H”;
  2. Must be an endangered species; and
  3. Must be larger than the predecessor.

The Cray® XE6™ supercomputer that initiated this name series was “Hermit,” installed in December 2010. According to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael M. Resch (Director of the HLRS), the name Hermit had a double meaning. “First,” he explains, “it stood for the hermit beetle, which is a symbol for the environmental problems the region of Stuttgart is facing. We gave it the name of an endangered species which can be found in the region of Stuttgart.” The second meaning is: “Our Cray XE6 was a hermit-like installation, most of its time running in the dark but spending time ‘thinking’ about the most important problems in the world.”

“Hermit” initially clocked in at 10 TF, and in 2011 it hit 1 PF and became the fastest supercomputer in Germany.

Hermit was supplanted in November 2014 by the new kid on the block: “Hornet,” a Cray® XC40™ system with a peak performance of 3.8 PF.

In 2015, Hornet was upgraded and renamed “Hazel Hen,” another name for the hazel grouse, a bird whose range extends from Europe to Asia. Hazel Hens are known to eat hornets. The Hazel Hen upgrade increased the XC40 system’s performance to 7.42 PF.

The Hazel Hen upgrade also put HLRS on the Top500 list. The system debuted at No. 16 in 2014 and, as of November 2015, it sits at No. 8.

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *