Since November 2013, the “Piz Daint” high-performance computer at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano has been the most powerful supercomputer in Europe. By the end of 2016, its performance was once again more than tripled by an extensive hardware upgrade. Today, “Piz Daint” is the fastest computer outside Asia with a theoretical peak performance of 25.3 petaflops. Thanks to innovative architecture, “Piz Daint” is also one of the most energy-efficient mainframes in the world.
This means that Switzerland is overtaking three large US-American mainframe systems – in Europe, Piz Daint has been up there with the front runners for quite some time. Two supercomputers from China are in the lead, these being the Tianhe-2 with a performance of 33.9 petaflops and the Sunway TaihuLight with as many as 93 petaflops. With such a tremendous lead, it will undoubtedly take some time before any competition from Europe can be considered a threat.
Supercomputers are gaining enormously in importance in business, science and research, as well as for the overall competitiveness of countries. They are used in astrophysics and medicine through to the complex simulation of traffic flows, molecular motions or weather phenomena. In the meantime, they have become indispensable in research: simulations, data analyses and visualizations provide central contributions in most research areas, in addition to theory and experiments. Powerful systems such as “Piz Daint” are crucial for high-resolution, computer-intensive simulations, such as those conducted in climate and material research as well as in the life sciences.
Not to mention the fact that “Piz Daint” is also an important element in international research cooperation. With “Piz Daint”, the CSCS has been one of the most important providers of computing power in the “Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe” (PRACE) since spring 2017. In turn, this involvement is of benefit to Swiss researchers: through CSCS’ participation in PRACE, they gain access to various other European mainframes.