University of Edinburgh doubles compute power

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The University of Edinburgh has unveiled a new HPC system that doubles the compute power available to researchers, requires less cooling than its predecessors and uses less energy.

Multi-disciplinary researchers from across the University of Edinburgh – working in areas including bioinformatics, speech processing, particle physics, material physics, chemistry, cosmology, medical imaging and psychiatry - will now benefit from a significant upgrade to the University’s shared HPC system, known as ‘Eddie’. The new HPC system allows researchers to run more complex computer simulations and scenarios, and obtain research results more quickly. A second planned upgrade for 2011 is expected to result in at least five times the current compute power of Eddie being available to researchers.

Despite immediately doubling the compute power available, the HPC system will generate less heat than its predecessor and have minimal energy consumption. There are several reasons for the reduction in heat emissions. Firstly, there are efficiency improvements contained in Intel's Westmere platform. Second, heat emissions are reduced by the HPC system's use of IBM System x iDataPlex servers, which are custom engineered for excellent energy efficiency. In addition, the University's system is fitted with iDataplex water-cooling features to remove 100 per cent of heat generated by the system close to the source, which when combined with the use of Scottish air to cool the water, provides almost free cooling for much of the year.

Design, build, configuration, implementation and support of the HPC system now and, again in 2011, will be undertaken by HPC system integrator, high performance storage integrator and cloud service provider, OCF.

'The HPC system design put forward by OCF provides both an increase in compute power for the benefit of researchers and a reduction in the university’s running costs due to the innovative technologies in use,' says Jean Ritchie, Edinburgh Compute Data Facility service director, the University of Edinburgh.