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University of Birmingham launches BlueBEAR computational cluster

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The University of Birmingham has launched its high powered computational cluster, known as BlueBEAR, at the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR) conference held on 24 June.

The £2.5m BlueBEAR is one of the largest University computing and data storage facilities in the UK, designed to be capable of crunching its way through large amounts of data at any one time.

The conference, which was held at Birmingham Business School, was opened by Professor Nigel Weatherill, head of college engineering and physical sciences and keynote talks included: Professor Martyn Guest, director of advanced research computing at the University of Cardiff; Stephen Butcher, head of procurement and shared services, HEFCE; and Professor Paul Valdes of the school of geographical sciences, University of Bristol.

Professor Weatherill said: 'I am pleased to join a university that is making such exciting developments in its high-performance computing facilities. Birmingham, in collaboration with our commercial partners, has done a splendid job to ensure we have the infrastructure that brings together colleagues from colleges and IT services, to work on problems which are intellectually challenging and which push HPC resources to their limit.'

Professor Peter Watkins from physics and astronomy and the academic lead on the BlueBEAR project, described how BlueBEAR will help answer fundamental questions about the structure of matter and the Universe by studying the vast quantities of data that will soon be available from the Large Hadron Collider experiment at CERN in Geneva. Other highlights included how HPC is being used to understand and predict changes in our climate by the end of the century.

BlueBEAR provides over 1500 processing cores and 150Tb of storage. With this large amount of processing power the results of numerical experiments/modelling can be realised much faster and potentially to a higher degree of accuracy than was possible using previous University facilities.