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UK launches high-performance computing centres

Tue 28 Mar 2017


Six high-performance computing (HPC) centers will be located at universities across the United Kingdom and officially launched this week. The HPC centers have been built using £20 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The centers are intended to give both academics and industry experts access to powerful computers that can be used for research and development in engineering and physical sciences. The centers were created to address a gap in access to specialized HPC equipment that is not currently met by the National HPC Service.

Some real-world applications of the newly available technology could include research into energy generation and storage, or the development of autonomous vehicles. The HPC centers will be located at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Oxford, Loughborough, and UCL.

The HPC centers include one that is devoted to advanced architectures, employing an ARM processor system, touted as the first production system of its kind in the world. At this center, scientists will be able to use a varied selection of emerging architectures to run their applications.

Another will be devoted to data computation and analytics, while a third will focus on materials and molecular modeling. The Loughborough location will host a center that can be used for more general research purposes, while the Oxford center will focus on machine learning and molecular dynamics. The Oxford center, called JADE, will be the largest GPU facility in the whole of the UK.

The University of Edinburgh will use its grant to increase the size of the existing HPC system by 500%, to provide a cutting-edge center that can be of use to both science and industry.

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Center believes that the creation of high-performance computing centers in the United Kingdom will provide a valuable service in creating a bridge between the resources available to academic researchers and those used in industry and government. He said, “These centers will enable new discoveries, drive innovation and allow new insights into today’s scientific challenges.”

The six new HPC centers will be officially launched at a ceremony at the University of Birmingham this week.


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