Astrophysicists benefit from supercomputing boost
17 Jul 2017
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The Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University has doubled its supercomputing capacity thanks to our retired supercomputer.

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Hartree Centre has donated one of its retired supercomputers to a consortium of physics, astronomy and cosmology researchers. It will become part of the largest supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and high performance computing research in the country.

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The supercomputer, Blue Wonder will help researchers at Durham University to address some of the most challenging scientific problems in UK particle physics and astronomy. 

It comprises of:​ 

  • ​9000+ cores
  • 5 PB storage
  • 500+ iDataplex M4 nodes
  • Connected by Mellanox FDR 10 InfiniBand

The STFC Hartree Centre has recently upgraded its own systems, enabling it to donate the four-year-old system to the Institute of Computational Cosmology at Durham University, providing increased computing capacity for modelling and observing the behaviour of gravitational waves.

Dave Cable, Head of Service Operations at the Hartree Centre said: “This is great example of the technology investment in the Hartree Centre living​ on and being used to benefit world-leading science in the wider research community. High performance computing technology moves on just as fast as our smartphones do, so to stay at the forefront we are always upgrading. But when a system has outlived its usefulness to us, that doesn't mean it won't retain enormous value to another world-leading research centre."

The new system will become part of the DiRAC​ 2.5 project (Distributed Research-utilising Advanced Computing), and will allow researchers to interpret data from the Juno project, which analyses Jupiter. This will ultimately help scientists to understand the origin and evolution of the largest planet in our solar system.

Dr Lydia Heck, Technical Director at the Institute for Computational Cosmology​, Durham University said: “This project sees a new life for Hartree Centre equipment and cost-effectiveness for government proj​ects. It will vastly i​​mprove our modelling and big data capabilities. We have already started rebuilding our computer with the new equipment and are hoping to have it fully operational at 9600 cores."

 


As well as the Juno project which will help researchers to analyse weather, cloud motion and magnetic wave measurements. The supercomputer will also be used in the Laser Inferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project, a large-scale physics experiment and observatory detecting gravitational waves.​

Read more about this story in InsideHPC and The Register​.​


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