The Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) is extending its so-called Alps HPC infrastructure across Switzerland in order to increase the efficiency and resilience of the center’s services.

Alps is the name given to the center’s software-defined HPE Cray system that CSCS said would replace its 25 petaflops Piz Daint machine in April 2021. Expected to be available in Q1 of 2024, Alps will contain about 5,000 Grace Hopper modules, with four modules per node, and will be the first system globally to deploy the Grace Hopper Superchip.

CSCS Piz Daint.jpg
– Swiss National Supercomputing Centre

In collaboration with École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CSCS will be making Alps available to the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss by Spring of 2024, providing the service with a failover, helping to mitigate the risk of power outages brought about by the regional blackouts proposed in Switzerland’s energy contingency plans.

The extension will also provide new ways of processing federated data and improve the reliability of services such as MeteoSwiss weather forecasts, which are currently exclusively computed at the CSCS facility in Lugano.

In order to facilitate this extension, EPFL will house the necessary equipment within its on-campus data center in Lausanne.

“The research infrastructure with its ability to support high-availability services over different geographical locations is one of the innovations that resulted from the careful design and planning of the ‘Alps’ system architecture,” said Thomas Schulthess, director of CSCS.

CSCS was founded in 1991 and provides the research community, academia, and industry and business sectors with access to supercomputers. Located in Lugano and operated by ETH Zurich, the facility currently houses five supercomputers, including the AROLLA & TSA systems which together work for MeteoSwiss’s weather service.

The center’s Cray XC40/XC50 Piz Daint was ranked in the top 10 most powerful supercomputers in Top500's June 2020 list, but dropped out by November 2020.