Are supercomputers a necessity or a luxury in Spain?
e eective and ecient management of public resources should
always be paramount in our society, especially in times of economic crisis
such as the one we are undergoing today. It is imperative to use all the
decreasing resources at our disposal to develop activities that improve the
life quality of the citizens and also create wealth for everyone. It is logical
that society asks itself whether it is convenient to invest dozens of millions
of euros in research, development, and high technology in moments like
these, with all sorts of diculties to overcome.
10.1 Introduction 153
10.2 History 154
10.3 Current HPC Service Provider Landscape and Ecosystem 156
10.4 Industrial HPC Applications Landscape 160
10.5 Industrial Collaborations and Technology Transfer 161
10.6 Case Study: Repsol 165
10.7 Stimulation Plans for Adoption of HPC by the Spanish
Industry and SMEs 166
10.8 Conclusion 167
154 ◾ Industrial Applications of High-Performance Computing
So, the question is indeed pertinent: are supercomputers a necessity or
a luxury in Spain?
Let us take a look at history.
It is important to clarify that this chapter does not intend to oer an
exhaustive explanation of the situation of high-performance computing
(HPC) in Spain. We will be focusing on its fundamental player, the
Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS), appointed as a National
Facility by the Spanish government in 2005. e rst HPC systems and
the pioneering industrial usage of HPC systems in Spain date from the late
1980s to early 1990s, covering the use of vector computing, followed by
various parallel computing systems. A number of public regional centers
initiated their service at that time.
e BSC-CNS inherited the tradition of the well-known European
Center for Parallelism of Barcelona (CEPBA). is institution was a
research, development, and innovation center on ecient computing
technologies both for academia and for industry. CEPBA belonged to the
Technical University of Catalonia (UPC).
CEPBA started its activities in 1991, gathering the experience and needs
from dierent UPC departments. e Computer Architecture Department
(DAC) provided experience in the lower level of computing systems
(numerical kernels, operating systems, tools, and architecture). Five other
departments of the UPC with high computation demands joined DAC to set
up the CEPBA. ese departments were Signal eory and Communications,
Strength of Materials and Structural Engineering, Computer Systems and
Languages, Nuclear Physics and Engineering, and Applied Physics.
From 1995 to 2000 CEPBA coordinated the service activities with
CESCA (Supercomputing Center of Catalonia) through the C4 (Computing
and Communications Center of Catalonia). In 2000, CEPBA signed an
agreement with IBM to launch the CEPBA-IBM Research Institute (CIRI).
e objectives of this agreement were joint research on topics related
with deep computing and architecture, and supporting local research in
other areas of science and engineering. is Research and Development
Partnership between UPC and IBM had an initial commitment for 4 years.
In 2004, the Ministry of Education (Spanish government), the
Generalitat de Catalunya (local Catalan government) and the UPC took
the initiative to create a National Supercomputing Center in Barcelona,
the BSC-CNS, as a continuation of the CIRI.
Industrial Applications on Supercomputing in Spain ◾ 155
So, the MareNostrum system was built in 2004 as the most powerful
machine in Europe and the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the
world. In 2005, the BSC-CNS was ocially constituted and started its
activities. When upgraded in 2006 shortly aer its establishment, the
MareNostrum system was the most powerful supercomputer in Europe
again and the h most powerful supercomputer in the world (Figure 10.1).
Because it considered supercomputing infrastructure and services to
be a decisive asset for the scientic and technological development of the
country, the Spanish government created the Spanish Supercomputing
Network (Red Española de Supercomputación, RES) in 2006 answering
to the need of the Spanish scientic community for intensive calculation
e RES consists of a distributed virtual infrastructure of supercomputers
located in dierent sites and each contributes to the total processing
power available to users of dierent R&D groups in Spain. Its operation
is coordinated by the Operations Department of the BSC-CNS, which
includes support for global maintenance and upgrades, training of users and
technicians, facilitation of access, and other aspects related to user support.
From 2007 to 2013, the BSC-CNS led the Spanish national Consolider
project “Supercomputación y e-Ciencia,” which brings together 21 of the
FIGURE 10.1 (See Color Insert.) MareNostrum’s home in Barcelona’s Chapel