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New regional High Performance Computing facility to boost Leicesters computational modelling research

A new facility dedicated to High Performance Computing involving a partnership of Midlands universities is set to benefit Leicester researchers investigating a range of issues using computer modelling techniques.

Computer-based research at the University of Leicester combines the strengths of excellent numerical modellers with the state of the art campus-based computer architecture, the High Performance Computing clusters Alice2 and Spectre2, installed in 2016. Leicester researchers use Alice2 and Spectre2 to develop models on this 5,000 core cluster, which is free at the point of use, with features that make their models portable to the UK national supercomputing service Archer, of 118,080 cores.

In upscaling numerical models from the campus-size cluster to the national service, researchers face several challenges, including how to handle massively parallel data input/output streams efficiently and how to boost their code parallel performance.

Leicester researchers will soon have access to a new regional High Performance Computing facility to help them grow their models for use on the national supercomputing service. This new regional facility, HPC Midlands Plus, is a partnership of Aston University, the University of Birmingham, Coventry University, the University of Leicester, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London, and the University of Warwick. Sited at Loughborough University, this new cluster will provide more than 13,000 x86 standard computer cores and about five openPOWER nodes, as a dedicated post-processing resource.

This new facility received £3.2M of Capital Investments in National and Regional Tier 2 High Performance Computing (HPC) by EPSRC (EP/P020232/1). University of Leicester staff have made a strong contribution to the consortium for the specification and selection of the hardware, procured through an open European tender process, from IT Services experience of running a campus-based high performance computing service (Dr Chris Rudge) and the DiRAC national service (Dr Mark Wilkinson).

Expected to open in April 2017, this new regional service will provide opportunities for pushing the frontiers of computer aided research at Leicester and across the Midlands. Building on the strengths of Leicester’s computational modelling research team, new insight will be sought across a wide range of disciplines. In aerodynamics, modelling the detail of dual-stream jets from civil aircraft engines will aim to improve thrust while reducing noise, in combustion, detailing the mixing process by modelling aims to improve the stability and performance of lean combustors, to reduce greenhouse gasses. Time-resolved models of the human airways aim to lead to improvements in the care of asthma and other airways diseases.

The new regional service will open to University of Leicester researchers, to researchers from the HPC Midlands Plus partnership, and to third parties through an access quota allocation process.

Further information on the HPC Midlands Plus hardware and access polices can be obtained from the HPC Midlands Plus academic partner, Dr Aldo Rona, ar45@leicester.ac.uk, T: 0116 252 2510.

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