National Computer Center for Higher Education (France)

The National Computer Center for Higher Education (CINES), based in Montpellier, is a public institution of French administrative character placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Research and Innovation (MESRI), and created by decree in 1999.

It offers an IT service used for public research in France. It is one of the major national centers for computing power supply for research in France.

It has three missions:

  • High performance computation on supercomputer;
  • The permanent archiving of electronic documents;
  • The hosting of national computer equipment.


The National University Center for Computation (CNUSC) in Montpellier was created in 1981, responsible for hosting scientific apps for the research community, as well as applications in the field of librarianship. At the end of December 1999, the CNUSC was transformed into the current CINES, created by Decree N. 99-318 of 20 April 1999. The change brought new missions and a change of status. On the sixth march of 2014, the status of CINES are amended by decree, which is published in the official journal. This decree brings to light a new mission: the hosting of computer equipment on a national level. Over these years, the number of employees within the institution varied around forty technicians and engineers.

Calculating mission

The CINES has been providing computing resources to the French research community for so long, and its machine fleet is evolving regularly. For this reason, it cooperates with the National Large Intensive Computing Equipment (GENCI). The Occigen supercomputer is ranked 70th in the world in the TOP 500 calculators in June 2018. The Occigen machine (BullX), with a peak power of 3.5 petaflops, consists of a total of 3,366 nodes and 85,824 calculation cores divided into

  • 2,106 dual-socket nodes equipped with Intel Xeon E5-2690V3 Haswell processors (12 cores),
  • 1,260 dual-socket nodes equipped with Intel Xeon E5-2690V4 Broadwell processors (14 cores),
  • Infiniband FDR 4x (56 GBits), 
  • 5 Po of disks (Luster).

Old computing machines

 In January 2011 CINES had several machines for high performance computing:

- an SGI Altix ICE 8200 EX7 machine;

- an IBM P1600 + Cluster POWER5 machine;

- a Bull cluster (with GPU for hybrid computing).

- The supercomputer Jade CINES: The Jade supercomputer (SGI Altix ICE 8200 EX) with a power of 267 Tflops 

1,536 dual-socket nodes equipped with Intel Xeon E5472 processors with 32 GB of RAM 

1,344 dual-socket nodes equipped with Intel Nehalem X5560 processors with 36 GB of RAM  

Infiniband DDR and QDR 4x dual plane

700 TB of disks (Luster) 

- The IBM machine with a power of 1.85 + 0.6 TFlops

9 Power4 nodes with 32/64 GB of RAM

switch Federation 

4TB of Disks (GPFS)

5 nodes P575 to 32 GB



The Jade supercomputer was ranked 27th in the world of TOP 500 calculators in November 2010, it was the sixth European machine and the first French machine for public research.

Top500 ranking

 Every six months, the world TOP500 supercomputer ranking is held, the table below shows the best places won by the various Cines systems.


year-month system's number

best ranking

processor's number (TéraFLOPS/s) (TéraFLOPS/s) TOP500 links
1995-06 1 140 32 0.005800 0.008512 [archive]
1996-06 1 77 79 0.015060 0.021014 [archive]
1997-11 1 112 79 0.02730 0.03792 [archive]
1998-06 1 137 107 0.03655 0.05136 [archive]
1998-11 1 121 127 0.04310 0.06096 [archive]
1999-06 1 95 207 0.06780 0.09936 [archive]
1999-11 3 98 256+112+207=575 0.24020 0.35236 [archive]
2000-11 4 132 224+256+207+96=783 0.3714 0.52866 [archive]
2001-06 4 44 472+160+256+207=1095 0.814 1.12096 [archive]
2001-11 3 56 472+320+256=1048 0.874 1.1816 [archive]
2002-06 2 90 472+320=792 0.753 1.028 [archive]
2002-11 3 90 472+512+256=1240 0.753 1.028 [archive]
2003-06 2 192 472+512=984 0.989 1.22 [archive]
2008-11 1 14 12288 128.4 146.74 [archive]
2010-06 1 18 12288+10752=23040 237.8 267.88 [archive]
2014-11 1 26 50544 1628.8 2102.63 [archive]
2017-06 1 50 85824 2494.7 3570.30 [archive]
2017-11 1 54 85824 2494.7 3570.30 [archive]
2018-06 1 70 85824 2494.7 3570.30 [archive]

Permanent archiving mission


Archiving digital data is a key factor in the success of any digitization and information-sharing policy. The second national strategic mission given to CINES is the development and implementation of a powerful solution for long-term preservation of the digital heritage. In addition to exceptional resources and equipment in the field of supercomputing, CINES therefore has access to one of the largest French production platforms dedicated to archiving digital data. The documents that are candidates for long-term archiving in PAC are: -Scientific data from observations, measurements, simulations or calculations;  -Heritage data such as the theses defended in France, pedagogical data, publications (articles published in particular on the HAL platform) or collections of digitized scientific journals; -Administrative data from universities.

To respond to some issues raised in the context of sustainable digital archiving, which are all unavoidable risks for which procedures must be put in place to mitigate their impact on the day they occur, CINES relies on the use of national standards (NF Z42-013, Afnor X578: 2005 - Documentation book FD X50-176 - management tools: process management, standard exchange of data for archiving, ...) and international (OAIS model - ISO 14721, ISO 9001, Dublin Core, ISAD-G, ISAAR-CPF, ITIL methodology ...) as well as a quality approach using proactive management risks, and an approach for the certification of the service.

 CINES also has an expertise cell on data formats and has a large computer and archival experience that allows it to be one of the leaders in sustainable digital archiving in Europe.

 Hosting computer equipment mission

The new mission of CINES is to provide support to the research community that needs space to help important computing environments operate. The goal is to provide organizations lacking material space in the machine room with the possibility of increasing their capacity in number of racks. It is often difficult to store multiple racks with all the dependencies (energy, air conditioning, 24/24 maintenance). CINES can bring this technical environment because its environment is adapted to accommodate computing in "industrial quantity".

See also

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