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The Nuclear Industrys HPCC gem

The UK’s new National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), is using the power of a High Performance Computing Cluster (HPCC) known as Gemstone to create and integrate 4D computer models.

The bespoke design, implementation, configuration and management of the entire HPCC is provided by OCF. 

Using Gemstone, NNL can now create and integrate up to seven different 4D computer-based models such as ground water flow or aerial dispersion modelling over time (time being the fourth dimension) to produce a single set of results for customers. 

This provides NNL’s customers with significantly more intelligence and enables them to undertake safer, more efficient and cost effective nuclear projects such as nuclear fuel manufacture and deployment, reactor operation, waste removal and reactor decommissioning. 

Customers include: Sellafield Ltd, British Energy, the Ministry of Defence, UKAEA, NDA, VT Nuclear, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

Gemstone also enables NNL to provide a single integrated set of results to its customers in just five days, a decrease from up to four weeks if 4D models are processed in series.   

Gemstone also enables faster reaction/turn around time to changing customer requirements during a project, e.g. changes to parameters during a modelling exercise can be incorporated and the 4D model re-processed in just five days, again a reduction from up to four weeks if models are processed in series. 

From initial concept stage, the HPCC was live within 12 months. NNL expects Return on Investment within 18-24 months. 

‘Our existing highly skilled workforce combined with our new exceptional HPCC facility enables us to offer unique products and services,’ said Mark Bankhead, project leader, NNL. ‘Ultimately, we are putting in place tools to support our customers as they ramp-up activity to meet the UK’s new renewed focus on nuclear power.’

The HPCC solution is built on IBM System x Server hardware and uses software from both IBM and Cluster Resources to provide a powerful computer system that delivers world class ease of use and resource management capabilities. 

The HPCC has 56 IBM System x3550 Servers with Intel Woodcrest processors and 10 IBM System x3455 Servers with AMD Opteron processors, over 600Gb of physical memory and a 16TB Storage Area Network. Infiniband low-latency interconnect technologies enable individual CPU’s to work together towards solving a single large model.

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