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The University of Southampton

£12m funding to develop high performance computing and deliver leading edge science

Published: 1 November 2016

Researchers at the University of Southampton, along with other institutions in the Science and Engineering South Consortium (SES) and the wider UK research community, will soon benefit from an influx of funding to support scientific work on computational systems.

High performance computing (HPC) is crucial to the development of the UK economy, with high impact in areas such as the environment, technology, and health.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded £12m to SES institutions towards developing university Tier 2 HPC facilities with a diversity of architectures that are designed to provide a boost to research and innovation. Tier 2 facilities fill a gap where computational needs have not been met by local or national machines.

Professor Mark Spearing, Vice President for Research and Enterprise at the University of Southampton, emphasised that: “The University uses High Performance and Data Intensive Computing to develop new medicines, design new airplanes, and understand social science, fundamental physics and molecular scale chemistry in partnership with industry. This resource will accelerate the work of our scientists and engineers.”

The SES Consortium is pleased to announce the development of three facilities:

Peta1 (led by the University of Cambridge), a multi-disciplinary facility providing large-scale data simulation and high performance data analytics and projected to become one of the largest HPC facilities in the UK. Importantly, a significant portion will be available free of charge to any UK EPSRC researcher, with access also open to UK industry.

The MMM Hub2, (led by University College London) or Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub. A field at the heart of almost every modern technology, materials have a vast impact on the UK economy, with applications in Health, Environment, Security, Surface Science, and Nuclear Energy. The machine will be available to MMM Hub members in addition to the wider UK MMM and Tier 2 communities.

JADE3, the Joint Academic Data Science Endeavour (led by the University of Oxford), a 5 Petaflop national GPU facility (the largest in the UK) with a focus on machine learning (partly in association with the Alan Turing Institute), image/video/audio analysis, and molecular dynamics. Applications will be in areas such as Natural Language Understanding, Autonomous Intelligent Machines, Medical Imaging, Multimedia Analysis, and Drug Design. JADE will be freely available to any UK researcher through a Resource Allocation Panel review similar to the national ARCHER system.

SES members King’s College London, Imperial College London, and the University of Southampton have collectively contributed to all three of the new facilities, alongside various institutions throughout major cities and regions of the UK who, similarly, have identified the need for such a scale and range of new HPC facilities.

Professor Simon Cox, Professor of Computational Methods and Chief Information Officer at Southampton, comments: “We look forward to working with our partners in Science and Engineering South to deliver a diverse range of new tools, technologies and platforms which will open up new opportunities for our researchers.”

Dr Oz Parchment, Director of iSolutions (IT) at Southampton, says: “These impressive additions to the UK’s national facilities will augment our already world class facilities and extend the capabilities of our research community to drive ever greater innovative solutions to real global challenges.”

All SES members have each committed to funding a research software engineer/ local support role (with a total of 12 roles funded by SES institutions across the three awards) to collaborate on application development with new users, coordinate between UK facilities, and share expertise.

SES is committed to supporting the evolution and growth of the national e-infrastructure landscape, ensuring consistency of approach in supporting UK researchers across all the new facilities, and integrating with other national and university facilities.

Notes for editors

1 With University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University College London (UCL), University of Southampton, DiRAC.

With King’s College London, Imperial College London, University of Southampton, University of Oxford, Cardiff University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Kent, and Queen’s University of Belfast.

With UCL, University of Southampton, King’s College London, University of Edinburgh, University of Sheffield, University of Bristol, and Queen Mary University of London.

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