"Piz Daint" for Europe, European supercomputers for Switzerland

Spearheaded by ETH Zurich and CSCS, Switzerland has from the outset been a member of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE). Now the country is additionally represented as a Hosting Member with ‘Piz Daint’, Europe’s most powerful supercomputer.

March 20, 2017 - by CSCS

Ever since the inception of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), Switzerland has been actively represented by ETH Zurich and its affiliated National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). Seven years later, PRACE with its 24 member states has become established as the leading pan-European collaboration in high performance computing (HPC). It offers users from research and industry free access to the latest supercomputer infrastructure, providing them with comprehensive and competent support in all aspects of HPC. PRACE 2 was ratified at the 25th PRACE Council in early March. Switzerland becomes a new Hosting Member in this second phase of PRACE, planned to cover the period from 2017 to 2020.

25th PRACE Council Meeting on 3 March 2017 in Schiphol, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Optimal utilisation of European high-performance computers

As a Hosting Member, Switzerland is now making its "Piz Daint" supercomputer at CSCS available for cutting-edge PRACE research. The other Hosting Members are Spain, Italy, Germany and France. The overarching goal of PRACE is to provide a federated European supercomputing infrastructure with different architectures that is science-driven and globally competitive, according to the PRACE 2 media release. It builds on the strengths of European science by providing high-end computing and data analysis resources to drive discoveries and new developments in all areas of science and industry, from fundamental research to applied sciences including: mathematics and computer science, medicine and engineering, as well as digital humanities and social sciences.

"Piz Daint", a CRAY XC40/XC50, makes CSCS the only PRACE computing centre with a scalable hybrid system of graphics processors and conventional processors, having peak performance of around 20 petaflops. The High-Performance Computing and Networking Strategy (HPCN) launched by the ETH Board in 2009 paved the way to procuring a petaflop-league supercomputer for Switzerland.
Researchers in PRACE member states may now apply for compute time on "Piz Daint", while researchers in Switzerland can gain access to compute time at other Hosting Members. Applications for compute time from Computationally-Intensive, High-Impact Research On Novel Outstanding Science (CHRONOS) projects that previously went via CSCS will now be routed through PRACE instead. “As a Hosting Member, our initiatives in high performance computing with ‘Piz Daint’ will gain further profile internationally and institutionalise our researchers’ access to other leading computing architectures. This will benefit everyone and make Switzerland yet more attractive as a centre of innovation,” says Thomas Schulthess, the Director of CSCS.

User training programmes

In addition to state of the art supercomputer technologies, PRACE also offers comprehensive training courses for students and young scientists in the field of HPC. These include, for example, free workshops, summer schools and online courses.

For more information and link to the official press release please visit PRACE website ».

About PRACE
The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) is an international non-profit association with its seat in Brussels. The PRACE Research Infrastructure provides a persistent world-class high performance computing service for scientists and researchers from academia and industry in Europe. The computer systems and their operations accessible through PRACE are provided and funded by 5 PRACE members (BSC representing Spain, CINECA representing Italy, CSCS representing Switzerland, GCS representing Germany and GENCI representing France). The Implementation Phase of PRACE receives funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement RI-312763 and from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (2014-2020) under grant agreements 653838 and 730913.