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October 11, 2018updated 12 Oct 2018 12:30pm

Cardiff University Launches £15M Supercomputing and Big Data Programme

The Supercomputing Wales programme hopes to "unlock the world-class research capabilities" in the country.

By jonathan chadwick

Cardiff University on  launched a £15 million research programme, called “Supercomputing Wales” that aims to put Wales on the global supercomputing map.

Launched in Cardiff Bay on Thursday, Supercomputing Wales aims to offer high-performance data analytics to the research community and industrial partners and hopes to bring in millions of pounds in research funding and boost the Welsh economy.

Research teams will also gain access to two new supercomputing hubs that are being established, one in Cardiff and the other in Swansea. Software engineers will work with researchers to develop algorithms and customised software for the facilities.

Cardiff “Hawk” HPC

Cardiff is host to a High Performance Computing (HPC)c luster dubbed “Hawk”  that comprises 7,000 cores of Intel Skylake Gold 6148 processors with an additional 1,040 cores of Intel Skylake Gold as a serial/high throughput subsystem.

Hawk is configured with 46+TB of total memory across the entire cluster, with a 692 TB global parallel file storage managed by the Lustre file system and 420 TB NFS/home partition for longer-term data store. Nodes are connected with InfiniBand EDR technology (100Gbps / 1.0μsec latency).

Cardiff University’s Professor Roger Whitaker, academic director for Supercomputing Wales, said the program will “put the country on a firm competitive footing worldwide”.

“The programme will support large-scale research proposals that demonstrate the degree of ambition called for in the Welsh government’s Science for Wales program,” he said. “Supercomputing has also been recognised as an important component of the UK’s new industrial strategy.”

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The UK has been omitted from a $1.2 billion EU initiative, announced earlier this year, which aims to catch up with Asia and the US in supercomputing.

Swansea University Working on First 1,000mph Car

Supercomputing Wales is made up of £9 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh government, with additional funding through university partners.

These include Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, and Swansea University, as well as Cardiff University, who will all benefit from data analytics facilities for their individual research projects.

At Cardiff University, these will include the Gravitational Physics Group for its research on gravitational waves, as well as the Wales Gene Park for its research on the diagnosis and treatment of inherited diseases and cancer.

At Swansea University, meanwhile, “The Bloodhound Project” will continue its work to create the world’s first 1,000mph car. Swansea Uni will also aim to develop algorithms for the UK Met Office for its daily forecast.

Aberystwyth University will use facilities to support DNA sequencing projects for plant breeding and the big data challenges of Earth observations. Bangor University will use facilities to support tidal energy and oceanographic projects.

Atos and Dell EMC will also build high performance computing equipment, software, and services under a new agreement with Supercomputing Wales.

The Welsh government and Cardiff-founded IQE are among the backers of Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS), launched earlier this year as part of the university’s £300 million capital development plan.

The institute aims to position Cardiff as the European leader in compound semiconductors.

Read More: Your Next Silicon Superpower: Wales?


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