For years, Italy has been involved in supercomputing, but only recently has it emerged as a major player in the field. It owes that newfound standing in part to the Cineca High-Performance Computing Center, an academic consortium of more than 50 Italian universities. Ever since people have been ranking the world's top supercomputers, Cineca has held a spot, usually someplace near the middle [source: Top500]. However, in June 2012, the center broke into the top 10 for the first time with FERMI, a 1.72-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q system that's actually the latest in a long line of IBM and Cray products in Cineca's history.
With deep enough funding, lots of organizations can become part of the supercomputing elite, but Cineca gets into this article for two reasons: First, it has always maintained an aggressive series of computers, and second, it's becoming somewhat of a uniting force in international computing
Started in September 2012, iCORDI is an international forum between E.U. and U.S. computing agencies. The goal is to develop universal data structures between the two groups that will make the sharing of information and research neater and easier. Cineca has positioned itself as a leader in solid earth sciences, which is everything from tectonics to ocean temperatures. With its new role and more powerful computers, Italy doesn't appear to be saying ciao to the international stage anytime soon.