Swiss National Supercomputing Centre
|Budget||24.3 Mio. CHF|
|Location||Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland|
The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (Italian: Centro Svizzero di Calcolo Scientifico; CSCS) is the national high-performance computing centre of Switzerland. It was founded in Manno, canton Ticino, in 1991. In March 2012, the CSCS moved to its new location in Lugano-Cornaredo.
The main function of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre is a so-called National User Lab. It is open to all Swiss researchers and their assistants, who can get free access to CSCS' supercomputers in a competitive scientific evaluation process. In addition, the centre operates dedicated computing facilities for specific research projects and national mandates, e.g. weather forecasting. It is the national competence centre for high-performance computing and serves as a technology platform for Swiss research in computational science. CSCS is an autonomous unit of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and closely collaborates with the local University of Lugano (USI).
The building at the new location Lugano-Cornaredo has a pillar-free machine hall of 2000 m² and can be powered with up to 20 MW electricity. Water for cooling the supercomputers is taken from Lake Lugano in 45m depth and pumped over a distance of 2.8 km to the centre. Thus, little energy is consumed for providing the cooling and the computer centre achieves a high energy efficiency with a PUE < 1.25.
Supercomputer procurements at CSCS can be categorised into two phases: In the first phase from 1991 to 2011, the centre focused on proven technologies in order to facilitate user access to its services. This strategy was centred on the SX vector processor architecture of NEC. The IBM SP4, installed 2002, was the first production system of CSCS with a massively-parallel computer architecture. The procurement of the first Cray XT3 in Europe in 2005 marked the beginning of the second phase. Since then, CSCS concentrates on early technologies, preferably before they become a generally available product.
Current computing facilities
|Model - Computer name||CPU type||No. of processors||Start of operation (last upgrade)||Peak performance (FLOPS)||Use|
|Hybrid Cray XC30 - Piz Daint||Intel Sandy Bridge 2.6 GHz + NVIDIA® Tesla® K20X GPUs||5,272 (42,176 cores; 84,352 hardware threads + 1 GPU x node)||November 2013||7.787 petaflops||Research (computer simulations)|
|Cray XC30 - Piz Daint||Intel Sandy Bridge 2.6 GHz||4,512 (36,096 cores; 72,192 hardware threads)||December 2012||750.7 teraflops||Research (computer simulations)|
|Cray XE6 - Monte Lema||AMD Opteron 12-core Magny-Cours 2.1 GHz||336 (4,032 cores)||April 2012||33.87 teraflops||Numerical weather prediction (MeteoSwiss)|
|Cray XE6 - Albis||AMD Opteron 12-core Magny-Cours 2.1 GHz||144 (1,728 cores)||April 2012||14.52 teraflops||Numerical weather prediction (MeteoSwiss)|
|Cray XK7 - Tödi||AMD Opteron 16-core Interlagos 2.1 GHz and Nvidia Tesla K20x GPU||272 (4,352 cores) + 272 GPUs||October 2011 (October 2012)||393.00 teraflops||Research (computer simulations)|
|Cray XMT Next Generation - Matterhorn||Cray Threadstorm||64 (8,192 hardware threads)||June 2011||n/a||Research (in particular analysis of unstructured data)|
|Cray XE6 - Monte Rosa||AMD Opteron 16-core Interlagos 2.1 GHz||2,992 (47,872 cores)||May 2009 (November 2011)||402.12 teraflops||Research (computer simulations)|
|Computer cluster (various manufacturers) - Phoenix||Intel Sandy Bridge 2.6 GHz and AMD Opteron 16-core Interlagos 2.1 GHz||82 (736 cores)||October 2007 (May 2012)||13.32 teraflops||Computing grid of the CERN LHC|
Previous computing facilities
|Model - Computer name||CPU type||No. of processors||Period of operation||Maximum peak performance (Teraflops)||Use|
|Cray XT4 - La Dôle||AMD Opteron quad-core Barcelona 2.3 GHz||160 (640 cores)||May 2007 - June 2012||5.88||Numerical weather prediction (MeteoSwiss)|
|Cray XT4 - Piz Buin||AMD Opteron quad-core Barcelona 2.3 GHz||264 (1056 cores)||May 2007 - June 2012||9.71||Numerical weather prediction (MeteoSwiss)|
|IBM System p575 - Mont Blanc||IBM Power 5 1.5 GHz||768||October 2006 - January 2010||4.6||Research (computer simulations)|
|Cray XT3 - Piz Palü||AMD Opteron dual-core 2.6 GHz||1664 (3328 cores)||June 2005 - April 2009||17.31||Research (computer simulations)|
|IBM System p690 - MPP||IBM Power 4 1.3 GHz||256||2002 - 2006||1.33||Research (computer simulations)|
|NEC SX-5 - Prometeo||NEC SX-5 vector processor||16||1999 - 2007||0.128||Research (computer simulations) and numerical weather prediction (MeteoSwiss)|
|NEC SX-4 - Gottardo||NEC SX-4 vector processor||16||1995 - 2004||0.032||Research (computer simulations)|
|NEC SX-3 - Adula||NEC SX-3 vector processor||2||1992 - 1995||0.0128||Research (computer simulations)|
National Supercomputing Service
The computers of the National User Lab are mainly used by Swiss universities and research institutions, in particular the Paul Scherrer Institute and CERN. In 2011, around 177 Million CPU hours were given to 80 research projects with about 700 users. Roughly two-thirds of the resources were used by the four universities ETH Zurich, University of Zurich, University of Basel and EPFL. Again, about two-thirds of the usage fell on the scientific fields of chemistry, physics, geoscience/environmental science, and nanoscience. Molecular dynamics methods also play an important role in all application fields of CSCS.
Dedicated HPC Services
In addition to the computers of the National User Lab, CSCS operates dedicated compute resources for strategic research projects and tasks of national interest. Since 2000, the calculations for the numerical weather prediction of the Swiss meteorological survey MeteoSwiss take place at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre. In January 2008, the first operational high-resolution weather forecasting suite in Europe was taken in production on a massively-parallel supercomputer at CSCS. Another dedicated computer resource operated by CSCS is the Swiss tier-2 computer cluster for the Computing Grid of the CERN LHC accelerator.
Research and development
For supporting the further development of its supercomputing services, CSCS regularly evaluates relevant new technologies (technology scouting) and publishes the results as white papers on its website.
Notes and references
- ETH History: Swiss Scientific Computing Center, Manno (CSCS). Last accessed 13 August 2012
- CSCS moves into new computer centre in Lugano. CSCS news of 12 March 2012. Last accessed 9 August 2012
- Factsheet: CSCS - driving innovation in computational research in Switzerland. Last accessed 9 August 2012
- Factsheet: Innovative new building for CSCS in Lugano. Last accessed 9 August 2012
- Swiss Supercomputing Centre delivers scientific excellence on NEC SX-5. Interview 20 July 2000. Last access 13 August 2012
- IBM selected to build Switzerland's largest supercomputer. Press release of 26 February 2002. Last accessed 13 August 2012
- Red Storm Over Switzerland: CSCS Will Be First in Europe to Make New Cray XT3 System Available for Science. Press release of 5 April 2005. Last accessed 13 August 2012
- First Cray XE6 Supercomputer installed at CSCS. CSCS news of 28 July 2010. Last accessed 13 August 2012
- Swiss National Supercomputing Centre Orders First Next-Generation Cray XMT Supercomputer. Press release of 28 February 2011. Last accessed 13 August 2012
- AMD Ships First "Bulldozer" Processors to CSCS and other High End Installations. HPC-CH blog entry pf 9 September 2011. Last accessed 13 August 2012
- Annual Report 2011
- New Supercomputer "Buin" inaugurated at the CSCS - Quantum leap in weather forecasting. Press release of 17 September 2007. Last accessed 13 August 2012.
- Factsheet: Supercomputing - a key to greater competitiveness. Information of ETH Board. Last accessed 13 August 2012.
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