Science and Technology Council to invest £21.5m in high-performance computing

By Derek du Preez
09 Nov 2011 View Comments
Facebook's Open Compute server racks at its datacentre in Prineville Oregon (Photo by Alan Brandt)

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is to spend £21.5m of government money on bolstering high-performance computing (HPC) at its International Centre-of-Excellence in Computational Science and Engineering (ICE-CSE).

HPC systems support resource-intensive applications such as simulations, computer modelling and analytics. The ICE-CSE provides support and expertise in theoretical and computational science for both academia and industry.

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The money is part of the £145m funding package that the government announced last month that is designed to drive innovation and growth for industries that rely heavily on computing.

"Significantly improving computing infrastructure is vital to driving growth and giving businesses the confidence to invest in the UK," said Universities and Science Minister David Willetts at the time.

"The investment will also be of enormous benefit to our world-class research base. It will enable universities to carry out highly sophisticated research and archive more data, keeping us at the very leading edge of science."

According to an online tender, the council is looking to procure a base HPC system with a minimum of 2,048 x86 cores, and an advanced HPC system with a performance capability of at least 450Tflops/s.

A Tflop, or teraflop, system is a parallel supercomputing system that has the capability to compute one trillion operations in a single second.

These two systems will be worth approximately £10m.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is also looking to buy a system for research and development in data-intensive computing, which will comprise a computer system, worth about £5.5m, and a data storage subsystem, worth £6m.

The initial deal will last three years from March 2012, but could be extended for a further two years, in which case a further £5m per annum will be invested. However, the council said that this is dependent on additional funding being made available.

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