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Coventry University implements virtualisation

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ScaleMP, a provider of virtualisation solutions for high-end computing has announced that Coventry University, UK, has dramatically reduced costs and improved research capabilities by implementing the vSMP Foundation for SMP software in the Automotive Engineering Applied Research Group. Since deploying the vSMP Foundation software, Coventry University has reduced CAPEX and OPEX, and found the solution easier to manage, offering the flexibility to run different types of applications in its virtualised environments (OpenMP, MPI, legacy code, etc) as well as significantly better performance than the traditional HPC system Coventry previously had in place.

To keep up with the increased demand from faculty and students focusing on cutting edge research in the Automotive Engineering Applied Research Group, Coventry’s computation centre began looking to upgrade its HPC infrastructure. As part of this initiative, the computation centre decided to add additional symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) capability for running large simulations requiring large memory in addition to running distributed (MPI-parallel) applications. While Coventry University wanted to move to an x86 architecture-based infrastructure to lower hardware costs, it seemed impossible to avoid having to invest in separate cluster infrastructure as well as in an SMP system to address its computing requirements. Dr Jim Tabor, head of the university’s HPC computation centre, evaluated vSMP Foundation from ScaleMP for its ability to aggregate multiple server nodes into a single virtual system and provide a very flexible platform that could not only support large shared memory applications, but also parallel applications on the same underlying IT infrastructure. Competing SMP offerings considered by Coventry were either prohibitively expensive or significantly less capable and not as scalable.

'We are scientists, not IT experts. We need a system that works well with our software and frees up time to allow us to focus on what we consider to be the most demanding theoretical and modelling problems. We want the system to work flawlessly at a high level of performance so that we are unaware of it,' said Dr Carol Roberts, research fellow in the Automotive Engineering Applied Research Group at Coventry University. 'Thanks to ScaleMP’s aggregation platform, we have a very versatile system that performs well with a wide range of applications. By providing a single virtual system, vSMP Foundation technology significantly reduces the IT complexity and enables access to large shared memory for our most demanding larger simulations when needed.'