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Home / News / Progetti / Bologna TECHNOPOLE, in the heart of supercomputing with LEONARDO

Italy looks to the future from the outskirts of Bologna. In the area of the former Tabacchi factory, a center of excellence in supercomputing – the TECHNOPOLE – creates a science ecosystem, with important organizations such as ECMWF, INFN (National Institute of Nuclear Physics), CINECA and the supercomputer LEONARDO. A project carried out in collaboration with the ICM Group, where Nesite raised floors are used in one of the most advanced data centres in the world, with a solution that shows the technicality of the system in all its complexity.

the technopole project

A center of innovation and experimentation for industrial research, with infrastructures with high computing performance, among the most powerful in the world: Technopole is the new beating heart of the Data Valley in Bologna, a real area of science, destined to become one of the major European hubs for information technology and data processing. A virtuous project right from the planning stages, which involved the conversion and redevelopment of the former Tabacchi factory, a 1952’s building designed by Pier Luigi Nervi. The complex, declared of historical and artistic interest and protected by the Superintendency for Cultural Heritage, has been integrated adequately with the new buildings, recovering and enhancing the original architecture. Furthermore, the particular attention to the environmental impact has led to the LEED v.4 for BD+C certification.

Technopole project Bologna

Under the arches of the former factory there are now important Italian and international research centres of various disciplines, from climatology to physics, from healthcare to big data. The centre also houses HPC (High Performance Computing) infrastructures such as Leonardo, the supercomputer for which we have designed a floor system capable of dealing with the particular load requirements, but also anti-seismic and in line with the high sustainability standards of the project.


It is the 4th most powerful computer in the world, it weighs as much as 4,700 people and to cool it you need 10 km of pipes with a total flow rate of 500 m3 of water. Leonardo is a unique machine of its kind and, to house it, it was necessary to create an environment measuring 32x23x3.80m, designed to guarantee high structural flexibility in the event of an earthquake; the space is in fact in reinforced concrete, without internal pillars, designed for maximum resistance to seismic events (class 4).

Raised floor installation inside Leonardo’s white space – Technopole Bologna (credits: CINECA)

The raised floor follows the particular needs of the project, with a solution that allows a maximum distributed load of 30 kN/m2, about 3060 kg/m2. The system created, made up of 35 mm thick modular panels with conductive PVC covering reinforced with a sheet of steel, was designed to support the load of over 150 racks for a total weight of over 340 tons, while the underfloor cavity allows the passage of about 156 km of cables. The structure, on the other hand, of the BPC type, reports seismic calculations and special high-strength stringers.

Leonardo was inaugurated on November 24, in the presence of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and the Minister Anna Maria Bernini. The supercomputer will develop new applications in areas such as artificial intelligence, personalized medicine, renewable energy sources, drug and material design, bioengineering, weather forecasting and the fight against climate change.


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