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University of Southampton awarded funds to promote HPC

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More than £2.2 million of funding has been awarded to The University of Southampton, in the UK, to help promote the use of high-performance computing for academic and industrial research. The award is part of a total of £3.7 million given to a consortium of the research-intensive universities of Southampton, Bristol, Oxford and University College London, from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The aim is to create and operate a new ‘Centre of Innovation for the Application of High-Performance Computing’.

Together, the four universities, collaborating with the e-Science Centre at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL) near Oxford, form the ‘e-Infrastructure South Consortium’. The creation of this new Centre of Innovation is the consortium’s first major activity since its launch in 2011.

Oz Parchment, Southampton’s director of Research Computing, commented: ‘The vast majority of Southampton’s £2.2 million share is being used to upgrade the University’s Iridis3 supercomputer, which was ranked 74 in the world when it was first switched on in 2009. A 12,000 core Intel Westmere-based general architecture/x86-based system is now being installed, giving it twice its original performance. Remaining funding will be used to support and run facilities for a year.’

The e-Infrastructure South Consortium aims to share computing resources, such as hardware, software applications, support services and skills. By combining efforts, it can offer considerable resources and computing power to encourage both academic research between its four institutions and the wider use of high-performance computing in industry. It is hoped that the consortium will stimulate new academic-industrial collaborations.

‘Simulation and computation enabled by high-performance computing are globally recognised as the “third pillar” of modern research practice in both academia and industry,’ said Professor Philip Nelson, University of Southampton pro vice-chancellor. ‘Keeping pace with high-performance computing methods is critical in making sure the UK stays competitive in this field – and the investment in Southampton’s supercomputer upgrade, along with the future activities of the e-Infrastructure South Consortium will substantially contribute to this.’