Feeds

Nottingham uni powers up £5m supercomputer

Lots and lots of flops

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Nottingham University officially launches its shiny new £5m high performance computing facility today. The machine has a peak performance of 3.14 Teraflops, according to the LINPACK test, making it the fastest academic machine in the UK.

The university has had other smaller clusters within departments, but this is the first large centrally-managed cluster. At its core is a central 1024 Opteron cluster installed by Sun and Streamline, with 16 satellite clusters around the University campus.

The machine wieghs in at 13 tonnes - the equivalent of about eight family cars - and occupies 650 cubic feet of space. It can perform three million million calculations every second, and has 50 Terabytes of disk space. This, the Nottingham press announcement tells us, is enough space to hold enough music to play continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the next 5,700 years. Still, it is not quite as portable as an iPod.

"The whole University will be using this facility and not just one particular department. We do not view this as a grid exercise for the sake of Computer Science," said Nottingham University's grid manager, Jason Hogan-O'Neill.

He told us that to date, the heaviest users have been Pharmacy, Physics and Chemistry (in no particular order), but that when the service is fully launched today, more than 20 schools within the University will want access to it, including those in Biology, Medicine and Geography. Academics in each school will be able to access the supercomputer directly through their desktop PCs via a ‘clone’ system, the university says.

Dr Frazer Pearce, an astronomer in the School of Physics, will have a paper published in the next edition of the journal, Nature, based on work on modeling the evolution of the universe he has performed on the cluster during its alpha and beta testing. Pearce is also the HPC project leader, and says that the machine will allow the university to tackle "grand challenge computational projects".

"Modern research relies heavily on computers. World class research often requires a world class high performance computing facility, something to which researchers at the University of Nottingham now have on-demand access," he went on.

Professor John O’Reilly, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will officially open the facility this afternoon. ®

Update:

Thanks to a number of readers who have pointed out that, in fact, the fastest supercomputer used in academia is the HPCX, based at Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. The machine is jointly managed by Edinburgh University and CCLRC, and can chug throughdata at an impressive 6.19 Teraflops.

Our thanks also to a number of you who, unimpressed with Nottingham's 3.14 teraflop beastie wrote in a long the lines of: "Oooh, 3.14 Teraflops. That'll be the same as 1.44 Playstation 3s, then?"

Related stories

Puny human takes on chess-playing supercomputer
Climate change boffins get £3.5m boost
My 96-processor Linux cluster is smaller than yours

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.