Cray XC30 Piz Daint at CSCS: Powerful and green

by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich

It’s a fact: Switzerland’s Piz Daint is the fastest supercomputer in Europe. What’s more, it has now been named the greenest petaflop computer in the world at SC13 in Denver, Colorado (USA).

Piz Daint performs 3.2 billion operations (3.2 gigaflops) per watt, making it fourth in the Green500 ranking of the most energy-efficient supercomputers. The TSUBAME KFC computer at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is the leader and can perform 4.5 gigaflops per watt. However, in terms of system size, the Swiss supercomputer is the most energy-efficient in the world – it is the only petaflop-magnitude computer to make the top ten ranking. At 7.7 petaflops, the maximum processing power of Piz Daint is 36 times faster than TSUBAME KFC, which is able to perform 217,8 teraflops (0.217 petaflops).

The fastest computer in Europe

The current top 500 ranking, which classifies supercomputers according to their processing power, appeared a few days ago. The list ranks Piz Daint as the sixth fastest supercomputer in the world and absolute fastest in Europe.

The computer has been in operation since April 2013 (reported in ETH Life) and has undergone extensive upgrades over the past few weeks. The system size of the supercomputer has more than doubled from 12 to 28 computer cabinets. Graphics processors were also added. With a total of 5272 hybrid computer nodes and a powerful low-latency, high-bandwidth network, the supercomputer can now handle true simulations in the magnitude of petaflops – the theoretical peak load is seven petaflops, or seven quadrillion calculations operations per second. Piz Daint delivers up to 20 times more computing power with only half the increase in power consumption compared to its predecessor, Monte Rosa. The fastest supercomputer in the world, Tianhe-2, is located in China and has a theoretical peak capacity of 33.86 petaflops per second.