The training and research of postgraduate students at the University of Southampton is set to benefit from new high-performance computer equipment, following a successful bid worth almost £400k.
The University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling (NGCM) has recently won a bid from the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) to invest in cutting edge hardware. The funds will allow research students to model anything, from atoms to autonomous UAVs, using next-generation technology.
Computational modelling underpins research and development in increasingly diverse fields of study including Archaeology, Biology, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics and Physics. Its uses range from understanding how fluids behave to the testing of new drugs.
Leading computational modelling algorithms create enormous data sets. The university’s new data intensive computer will provide up to 4Tb of RAM, allowing the processing of vast amounts of data for visualization, analysis and experimentation. This new hardware will also be used to host on-demand ‘virtual machines’ giving students access to tailored learning environments of advanced processing power from their desktops.
With computing power becoming ever more pervasive and widely distributed, new computer architectures have the ability to disrupt current trends in high-performance computing. The University will invest in IBM POWER8 and low power, energy efficient architectures, such as those found in mobile devices. Both have the potential to become much more widely deployed in the future.
“By engaging the students with this broader range of infrastructures, they will have the training and experience to tailor their algorithms and skills to emerging next generation hardware flexibly and more effectively” says Professor Hans Fangohr, Professor of Computational Modelling and Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Southampton.
Alongside the University’s previous investments in Intel Xeon Phi, the NGCM will deploy NVidia Graphic Processing Units (GPUs), each featuring 2880 cores, allowing the University to fully engage with industry partners that have a strong focus in this area.
The Centre for Doctoral Training, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, is hosting a Summer Academy in June next year where PhD researchers from a number of institutions will get to use the new equipment. The week long academy will feature workshops with some of the biggest names in the computing industry, including Intel, nVidia, Microsoft and the IPython open source software team.
“One of the reasons we received the funding for this equipment was so that it can be directly used for events such as the Summer Academy,” says Professor Fangohr, who is chairing the UK’s national High Performance Computing Scientific Advisory Committee. “This will be the perfect forum to engage with and develop new techniques using the latest hardware.”
Originally appeared as University press release