The most powerful university-based supercomputer in England, and the third largest academic supercomputing facility in the UK, has been deployed at the University of Southampton. Based on the June 2013 version of the Top500 list of the World’s most powerful supercomputers, ‘Iridis4’ is anticipated to be one of the top 10 leading supercomputers in the UK.
In a deal worth £3.2 million, Southampton’s new supercomputer is powered by IBM Intelligent Cluster solutions and designed, integrated and supported by HPC, data management, storage and analytics company OCF. It is four times more powerful than its predecessor, Iridis3, and has 12, 200 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor cores, one petabyte (or one-million gigabytes) of disk space, with 50 terabytes of memory. The new machine is one of very few in the UK to include Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, which are each capable of running at one teraflop and can take control of some of the most demanding mathematical calculations to significantly increase its processing power.
Iridis4 will mainly be used for research by University staff and students across a wide variety of disciplines, from engineering and archaeology to medicine and computer science. It is estimated that around 350 projects are likely to run on the machine in the first year.
Dr Oz Parchment, director of Research Computing at the University, commented: ‘Southampton is a leader in high-performance computing (HPC) and Iridis4 allows us to take another leap forward to keep pace with the needs of our world-class researchers. There is an ever increasing demand for the use of supercomputing power for research and this new machine will provide the opportunity for even more academics to work on a greater number of projects, at faster speeds.’
The University of Southampton’s Iridis3 will remain in operation, providing an important resource for industrial research through the e-Infrastructure South Consortium. This group of research intensive universities – Southampton, Bristol, Oxford and University College London – operate a ‘Centre of Innovation for the Application of High Performance Computing’, which was set up in 2012 with £3.7 million from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to upgrade Iridis3 and install resources at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories near Oxford.