University of East Anglia expands HPC for non-traditional users
OCF is set to deliver a new HPC system to the University of East Anglia as the university expands its HPC capabilities to accommodate more ‘non-traditional’ HPC users. The university, based in Norwich, in the east of England, already has a large number of users from traditional disciplines including climate change, bioinformatics, computational chemistry, environmental sciences. But, increasingly demand for HPC is coming from non-traditional disciplines, such as the faculty of medicine, business schools, and the economics department.
Chris Collins, Head of Research and Computing Support at the University of East Anglia said: ‘The university has long recognised the benefits of HPC to multiple disciplines of research. We received funding in 2010, which was provided in a conscious action to get more non-traditional HPC users on board. We scaled that system continually because of demand and now, four years later, we’re replacing it with a more powerful system. We’re keen to add to our existing 500 research users.’
The system marks the university’s second new HPC system in four years and, like its predecessor, can be scaled and expanded in the coming months through a framework agreement to match rapidly increasing demand for compute power. The new system, designed and integrated by HPC, big data and analytics integrator OCF, comprises Fujitsu Primergy servers with IBM’s Platform 4.2 cluster management system and integrates with the University’s existing IBM SAN storage system with IBM Spectrum Scale (formerly GPFS). Some of the newer hardware from the university’s old cluster will be migrated over to the new HPC environment by OCF during the next few weeks. Upon completion, nearly 6,600 cores will be available to researchers at the university by early 2016.
The Fujitsu cluster will be housed across the University’s two data centres. The migration to the new cluster will also involve moving around 800 different applications that cater for the diverse usage of the HPC system across the university’s departments. Mostly Open Source, it also includes some central licences for commercial software, bioinformatics tools and other applications such as Matlab, R and Python.
A research group from the School of Computing is currently piloting the new HPC system, using its compute cores to investigate a computational comparison of varying algorithms. Benefitting from the newer architecture, the researchers have run around half a million jobs in the first few weeks.
Chris Collins commented, ‘It is important for us to respond to changing demands for HPC within the university. OCF’s people, expertise and knowledge in both HPC and higher education, accessible through our framework agreement, gives us the opportunity to continually expand our service with the best technology, in the most cost effective way. We are also benefiting from OCF’s world-leading partnerships within the HPC industry, which has given us the opportunity to widen our own understanding of potential opportunities in HPC and make use of the best technologies.’
The university plans to expand the HPC system and purchase further hardware before July 2016.