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University of Edinburgh to gain Cray XC30 supercomputer

The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded a $30 million contract to Cray for the delivery of a Cray XC30 supercomputer and a Cray Sonexion storage system to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as part of the ARCHER project.

The follow-on to the High-End Computing Terascale Resource (HECToR) project, ARCHER is the next generation of a national high-performance computing (HPC) facility in the UK. The new Cray XC30 supercomputer will provide nearly four times the scientific throughput of its predecessor, HECToR, which is a Cray XE6 supercomputer. It will also be an essential system for scientists in the UK, in particular those funded by EPSRC and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

‘One of our primary goals is to increase the ability of UK researchers to make valuable contributions to the solution of important, grand-challenge problems, and the Cray XC30 supercomputer will be a powerful tool in support of these efforts,’ said Professor David Delpy, chief executive, EPSRC. ‘The ARCHER project advances HECToR’s initiatives to assemble the computational resources necessary for breakthrough research in a broad range of disciplines, and we are pleased that Cray will continue to be a strategic partner for UK research.’

The ARCHER project is focused on building on the existing investments in national HPC facilities so that the UK is an internationally recognised leader in computational science and engineering. The project provisions high-end computing resources for use in a wide range of scientific and academic research in fields such as climate, oceanography, life sciences, aerospace, and many others.

Previously code-named ‘Cascade’, the Cray XC30 supercomputer is Cray’s most advanced HPC system and is engineered to meet the performance challenges of HPC users. The Cray XC30 supercomputer features the Aries system interconnect; a Dragonfly network topology that frees applications from locality constraints; an innovative cooling system that utilises a transverse airflow to lower customers’ total cost of ownership; the next-generation of the scalable, high performance Cray Linux Environment that also supports a wide range of ISV applications; Cray’s HPC optimised programming environment; and the ability to handle a wide variety of processor types, including Intel Xeon processors, Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, and Nvidia Tesla GPU accelerators.

The Cray scalable storage solution to be deployed at the University of Edinburgh includes the Cray Sonexion scale-out Lustre system. The solution includes nearly five petabytes of capacity and 100 gigabytes per-second of applications performance. Cray Sonexion vastly reduces deployment time and simplifies Lustre for petascale solutions. Cray Sonexion provides performance scalability from five gigabytes per-second to one terabyte per-second in a single file system – and performs optimally at scale. Management is simplified through component reduction, by more than 50 per cent for petascale systems. 

Consisting of products and multi-year services, the contract is valued at approximately $30 million in total revenue and the system is expected to be delivered and put into production in 2013.

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