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March 27, 2012updated 22 Aug 2016 12:59pm

Southampton leads university HPC funding consortium

South coast uni will use cash to upgrade Iridis3 supercomputer

By Steve Evans

A group of research-intensive universities has been awarded £3.7m to help promote the use of high-performance computing (HPC).

The majority of the funding, about £2.2m, will go to the University of Southampton, with Bristol and Oxford universities and University College London sharing the rest.

The universities have joined forces to form the Centre of Innovation for the Application of High Performance Computing. The consortium will join up with the e-Science Centre at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories to form the e-Infrastructure South Consortium, the group said in a statement.

This group will look to share hardware, software, support services and skills to improve the HPC capabilities at each institution. It is hoped this will also improve academic research projects between the universities.

"Not only is this an excellent opportunity to pursue new research challenges," said Professor Simon Cox, associate dean for Enterprise in Engineering and the Environment at Southampton, "but also we will be using this facility for our extensive consultancy activities with small and large businesses."

University of Southampton Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Nelson, said the deal will help the UK stay competitive. "Simulation and computation enabled by high-performance computing are globally recognised as the ‘third pillar’ of modern research practice in both academia and industry," he said.

"Keeping pace with high-performance computing methods is critical in making sure the UK stays competitive in this field – and the investment in Southampton’s supercomputer upgrade, along with the future activities of the e-Infrastructure South Consortium will substantially contribute to this," he added.

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Southampton will spend the money on upgrading its Iridis3 supercomputer, the 74th most powerful computer in the world when it was launched in 2009.

"A 12,000 core Intel Westmere based general architecture/x86 based system is now being installed, giving it twice its original performance. Remaining funding will be used to support and run facilities for a year," said Oz Parchment, Southampton’s director of research computing.

CBR spoke at length to Parchment about the university’s HPC prowess. You can read the feature in full here.

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