NCC Switzerland

Within the EuroCC project, ETH Zurich / CSCS is tasked with establishing  a National Competence Centre (NCC) in the area of high-performance computing (HPC) in Switzerland, its respective country. The Swiss NCC coordinates activities in all HPC-related fields at the national level and serves as a contact point for customers from industry, science, (future) HPC experts, and the general public alike.



The objectives are to build and enhance capacities in Switzerland for users in academia, research institutions, public administration and industry to harness the potential of high-performance computing and data analytics in the Exascale era. The Competence Centre Switzerland will heavily focus on working on development of chosen community applications and libraries and services for academia and industry (SMEs) to assure readiness for the pre- and Exascale systems.


The vision of the NCC Switzerland is to offer several products to other partners including other NCCs and by increasing the adoption of these software in Switzerland and Europe. One key capability that needs to be developed by the NCC Switzerland is to create products (including services) from these initiatives and to disseminate them. Productisation of a software service includes a business model, service level agreements, legal framework, marketing analysis and a dissemination and partner engagement plan. The goal of the productisation is also to legally protect ETHZ/CSCS Intellectual Property (IP) and to provide a sustainable support model.Two of the products are Sarus and FirecREST.


The container engine for combining container portability with native HPC performance

Within the EuroCC project, ETH Zurich / CSCS is tasked with establishing  a National Competence

Sarus is a container engine for high-performance computing (HPC) systems that provides a user-friendly way to instantiate feature-rich containers from Docker images. It is designed to blend the portability of containers with the unique requirements of HPC installations, such as: native performance from dedicated hardware, improved security due to the multi-tenant nature of the systems, support for network parallel filesystems and diskless computing nodes, and compatibility with a workload manager or job scheduler.

With flexibility, extensibility and community efforts at its core, Sarus relies on industry standards and open-source software. The adoption of the OCI specifications allows Sarus to implement a modular architecture and to extend the capabilities of the container runtime through external plugin programs, called “OCI hooks”. Hooks can customize containers to enable specific high-performance features, and they can be developed independently by third parties to introduce new technologies or improve support for existing ones.

Read more here.

We used Sarus for prototyping the containerization of a coupled climate model during a hackathon organized at CSCS, since it is compatible with the Open Container Initiative (OCI) it was easy to work first with Docker images and then run these with Sarus in the cluster to do some of the initial tests we have planned for the model. We found it very easy to learn and use. An excellent technology for the HPC software ecosystem.

Julian Rodrigo Berlin

Research Software Engineer, Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Sarus was our first experience using container son an HPC system. Its compatibility with standard container technology and easy implementation on the HPC system made it very effortless to deploy. Our experience with Sarus encourages us to adapt our workflow to accommodate container completely.

Dr. Bing Gong and Amirpasha Mozaffari

Machine Learning Researcher and Data and Workflow Manager, Jülich Supercomputing Centre

FirecREST is a RESTful services gateway and interface for managing HPC resources. Designed and developed as a high-performance and reusable framework of micro-services, it provides a coupling layer between the identity and access management of the cloud and web world and the essential POSIX interfaces used in HPC. FirecREST therefore serves as a secure, web-accessing interface for accessing HPC services such as HPC compute capability or high-speed storage. Together with the use of standard technology, its modular design enables simple integration into existing HPC infrastructure.

FirecREST allows communities that require HPC to build value-added workflows or services to maximise the productivity of their members. Developing such services is made easier with FirecREST because it uses standard technologies such as REST API. With the addition of pyFirecREST, any HPC user can develop a simple Python program that connects through the web to his/her HPC providers and enable the submission of jobs or transfer of data in and out of the HPC centres.



CSCS recently unveiled two new innovative software products, Sarus and FirecREST, designed for improving data workflows and porting of applications to HPC systems. A brand new web portal has been launched to provide detailed information about the new products, including use cases, downloads, documentation, and contact information. To provide more insight into the development, application, and promotion of these new products, as well as the value they add to the EuroCC Project, we sat down with two CSCS experts who are responsible for the new portal to learn more.

Video playlist


For more information about NCC Switzerland’s activities please visit the Products page or send an email to