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Cosmology collaboration gains new supercomputer

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The UK Computational Cosmology Consortium (COSMOS), based at the University of Cambridge, and Miracle Consortia have selected SGI as preferred technology partner for their shared-memory node, as part of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)-funded DiRAC HPC collaboration. The funding comes as part of the UK Government’s investment of £158M in e-infrastructure.

The COSMOS supercomputer will be a world-class Shared Memory Node within the national DiRAC HPC Facility and will serve the computational needs of UK cosmologists and exoplanet astrophysicists, two of the most rapidly advancing fields in the physical sciences. On delivery, it will be the largest shared-memory single-image system in Europe and will be the first SMP system in the world enabled with Many Integrated Core technology (Intel MIC). One of the key benefits of a coherent shared memory system is that any program written or modified takes full immediate advantage of all cores and memory. The system will operate flexibly as an Innovation Centre, making its unique capabilities readily available to other DiRAC Facility users.

The selected SGI UV system will include 1,856 cores of Intel Xeon family processors and 14.8 terabytes of cache coherent shared memory in five racks, and will be scalable to 4,096 physical cores (8,192 virtual) and up to 64TB of cache coherent shared memory. Intel is providing up to 32 Many Integrated Core (MIC) co-processors in this configuration and the system will include the latest NUMAlink 6 interconnect technology, optimised for ultra-low latency data access as well as fast general purpose communication.

COSMOS is being actively used for the computationally challenging task of opening up new frontiers in the study of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, especially using ESA Planck satellite data. Theoretical cosmologists will also use the supercomputer to continue pioneering the use of lattice field theory simulations in understanding the physics of non-linear phenomena during the early universe. Key UK research in extra-solar planets will also be supported.

One of the main aims of this project is to consolidate existing databases of astrophysically important molecules, improving the accuracy and completeness of their transitions. The capability of the new COSMOS to perform such calculations will allow much more information to be extracted from spectroscopic data from astrophysical environments.

COSMOS and Miracle Consortia institutions are: University of Cambridge (Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Institute of Astronomy, Cavendish Laboratory); University of Sussex (Physics and Astronomy); Portsmouth University (Institute of Cosmology); University of Manchester (Physics/Jodrell); Imperial College London (Blackett Laboratory – Astrophysics, Blackett Laboratory – Theoretical Physics); University of Central Lancashire (Astrophysics); University of Nottingham (Physics and Astronomy); University College London (Physics and Astronomy, Atmospheric Physics Laboratory); University of Oxford (Astrophysics); University of Durham (Mathematical Sciences); Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary.