Switzerland is home not only to watchmakers, bankers and chocolatiers but also a supercomputer, the 19.6 petaflop Cray XC50/XC40 system, nicknamed Piz Daint, installed in the National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS)…
Named after the nearby mountain peak, it is Europe’s leading supercomputer and is the third most powerful number cruncher in the world, after China’s Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe 2 . (For those of us unfamiliar with these terms, a petaflop is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating point operations per second, i.e. FLOPS).
The Piz Daint computer, run by CSCS, is located near Lugano by the Italian border. This supercomputer is used by Switzerland’s weather service for climate modeling and for research by scientists from around the world based in institutions which include the Institute of Particle Physics, the Human Brain Project, the universities of Basel, Bern and Genève and businesses such as the pharmaceutical company Novartis, insurance company Partner Re and Swiss Railways SBB.
How it is being used?
Using Piz Daint, scientists have had considerable success in analyzing the human genome, the origin of life on earth and extreme weather conditions. For example, with normal computers, searching for genes related to memory capacity has been comparable to seeking out the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” With the aid of the Piz Daint supercomputer, scientists at the University of Basel were able to discover interrelationships in the human genome that might simplify the search for “memory molecules” and eventually lead to more effective medical treatment for people with memory disturbance.
As for the origins of life on earth, the extreme temperature and pressure conditions of hydrothermal vents deep in the ocean, together with their distinct structures — a consequence of sulphide-rich minerals and the lack of light — are viewed as ideal breeding ground for chemical evolution of organic molecules, the building blocks of life. Researchers from Hungary, Switzerland and Italy are using Piz Daint to simulate the reaction chain that enables the formation of ammonia (NH3), which is one of the prebiotic molecules that are the key to the origin of life.
Read more https://www.eniday.com/en/technology_en/swiss-story-supercomputing/