CINECA case study: the supercomputers that are pushing HPC boundaries

Think Progress Team

Thursday 29 June 2017

To meet constant demands from researchers for more advanced, scalable and energy-efficient solutions, and to help teams conduct vital research in areas such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, medicine and urban planning, the intercollegiate consortium CINECA has deployed a ‘green’ supercomputer called Marconi. It can reach a performance of 20 petaflops, but keeps energy consumption low..

CINECA comprises 70 universities and is growing rapidly – the organisation is behind three of the five Italian entries in the biannual Top500 supercomputer rankings – and CINECA’s Marconi supercomputer is a Tier-0 system designed in collaboration with Lenovo. Its high-performance interconnectivity scales the system’s thousands of servers, enabling scientists to transform data into new insights across a range of disciplines.

“Our mission is to support the scientific and academic communities in their journey towards research, discovery and innovation,” says Sanzio Bassini, HPC director at CINECA. “To achieve this, we provide state-of-the-art supercomputing solutions as well as highly sophisticated data processing and data management capabilities within our recently developed big data environment.”

The Marconi supercomputer is helping to maintain the institution’s status as a major global player in academic research. Widely acclaimed, Marconi recently joined the Top500, now sitting in a record 12th place. The supercomputer is the highest Italian entry ever in rankings historically dominated by China and the US.

Marconi is being rolled out in phases, with the third part expected to be completed by the end of the first semester of 2017. You can learn more about its deployment in this press release.

Italy’s history of supercomputing dates back to 1954, when two University of Pisa physics researchers hatched the idea. But it was the University of Rome which, with the help of various local bodies, raised the money to build the first platform in Frascati, just outside the country’s capital.

Lenovo has played a key part in Marconi’s development. Alessandro De Bartolo, country leader of Lenovo’s Data Center Group in Italy, leads the project and says the company was “asked to deploy a system that achieves a high level of performance within a small, predetermined physical space with a very low level of energy consumption”. He also notes the need to mix conventional (CPU) and unconventional (GPUs) computational technologies.

Marconi, which ranks ahead of NASA’s own supercomputers, is an exceptional technological accelerator with the potential to serve not only Italian researchers, but also those from across Europe.

To learn more about CINECA’s groundbreaking research and supercomputing advancements, download our case study (available in English).

Download case study

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