ONE OF THE UK'S most powerful supercomputers was switched on today at the University of Southampton, powered by IBM's Intelligent Cluster technology, which consists of IBM Systemx, Bladecenter and system storage components integrated with network switches.
Entering the UK's top 10 elite supercomputers list at the flick of a switch, the system is the fourth generation in a line of supercomputers developed at the university, named Iridis4, and has been developed to support "the ever increasing demand for the use of supercomputing power for research". It is hoped that it will enable academics to work on a greater number of projects faster.
In a deal worth £3.2m, the university's IBM machine is one of few in the UK to run Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors that can handle more demanding mathematical calculations to significantly increase its processing power. The Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors are each capable of running at one teraflops.
As a result, Iridis4 is four times more powerful than its predecessor Iridis3 and has 12,200 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor cores along with 50 terabytes of memory and a petabyte of disk storage space.
Switching on the machine also makes the university the third largest academic supercomputing facility in the UK.
The school's director of research computing Dr Oz Parchment said Iridis4 is one of the largest supercomputers in the world and will be used for research by university staff and students across a wide variety of fields.
University of Southhampton fluid dynamics and aeroacoustics professor Richard Sandberg said the development of the supercomputer will help his research based on simulations of air turbulence.
"I need a computer to do these simulations and because turbulence is incredibly difficult to understand because we have a wide range of length scales and time scales, such as steadying motion, big structure, small structure; all of these have to be captured by simulation," Sandberg said.
"In order to do that you need very large computers to solve the problems. We couldn't do it on a desktop computer, supercomputing tackles any relevant problem."
The university has estimated that around 350 projects are likely to run on the machine in the first year.
The university's third generation supercomputer Iridis3 will remain in operation, providing resources for industrial research through the institution's e-Infrastructure South Consortium. µ