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.