February 07, 2022 - by CSCS

"Grand Tavé" is the name of a Swiss mountain of 3158 m in the canton Valais. CSCS has the tradition of naming the supercomputers after mountains. The name of "Grand Tavé" has been given to a Research & Development (R&D) system installed in 2017. This system is a Cray XC40 featuring Intel Knights Landing (KNL) compute nodes.

In December 2016 CSCS upgraded "Piz Daint" with NVIDIA PASCAL GPUs. At that time, there seemed to be a competing architecture available on the market, known as Intel KNL. A number of the Swiss researchers were eager to try their codes on the new Intel processors. For that reason, CSCS installed a system of 64 compute cores and 8 login cores. A one-cabinet system still big enough to allow serious software development and optimization.

Researchers were able to apply for development proposals in a continuous open call. Several scientists responded to this call and submitted development projects for "Grand Tavé". In the first year there were 10 projects granted access to the system.  

In the Summer of 2018, Intel announced that they were discontinuing Knights Landing. This shattered the expectations of the scientific community and killed the enthusiasm. 

"Grand Tavé", for as long as it was up and running, provided a solid R&D system. And scientists were able to gain experience in coding and testing on different computer architectures. Some of the teams working on "Grad Tavé" were focused on porting, for example the DBCSR library for sparse Matrix-Matrix multiplication, evaluating a massively parallel platform for seismic wave modelling applications, or optimizing a gyrokinetic PIC plasma turbulence code. The last project on the system was from University of Zurich and aimed at developing software for the in-silico analysis of whole-organ image sets. The final goal was to deliver quantitative physiology and pathology investigations, with an initial focus on kidneys.  

"Grand Tavé" was shut down on January 10, 2022 and the hardware dismantled in the following weeks.