Trip to Lugano

5/12/2023 | Sophia Herrmann

On a cloudy morning in May, the RACKlette team started its journey from Zurich HB to CSCS in Lugano. The trip not only served as an opportunity to learn more about supercomputers, but also presented the chance to better get to know the new members.

After arriving flawlessly on time (thanks to SBB) the newbies listened to mini workshops presented by older team members. This served as an introduction to HPC, including an introduction to ssh-keys and fundamental terms related to high-performance computing.


Then the team met up with Hussein Harake, the teams contact at CSCS and an engineer who is very well-versed in high performance computing. He introduced himself in person to the new members and gave encouragements towards the learning curve ahead of them.

For lunch the team went to eat very good pizza (as one must when in Lugano) at a restaurant, where older team members shared stories and anecdotes from previous competitions. The lunch was kindly paid for by CSCS.

Afterwards we got to see the server room, which was full of very exciting supercomputers including the ETH Euler Cluster. Hussein told us about the giant cooling system that transports cold water over several kilometers from lake Lugano and back to keep all the clusters on a level temperature at all times. He also explained to us a bit about the history of supercomputers, modern systems and the use of different cabels, as well as the different purposes the supercomputers stationed at CSCS have. We also got to see where the Piora cluster is usually installed, which was already on its way to Hamburg for the upcoming competiton at ISC.

Hussein explaining the history of supercomputing

Additionally, with the help of Hussein, the team composition for the upcoming competiton in November was decided on. The team will consist of three experienced and three new team members.

Since there was still time for some more workshops the new team members got to an introduction to bash. Moreover, everyone received login credentials to the racklette cluster, enabeling even the new members to already start compiling and running an example project.

Before we headed back to the train station we took a bus to the Lugano lake and ate ice cream while walking along the promenade.

On the way back to Zurich the team members worked on RACKlette or ETH things, wrote the application for SC or looked out of the window to see pretty lakes,admire the stunning nature of Switzerland and process all the impressions of the day. We thank CSCS and Hussein for being such gracious hosts and hope to visit again soon.