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OCF HPC machine at University of Bristol enters the TOP500

I’m incredibly pleased to be able to share with you the news that the newest supercomputer at the University of Bristol has entered the TOP500 supercomputing sites – now the second OCF customer on the list.

For over a decade the University has been contributing to world-leading and life changing scientific research using HPC, having invested more than £16m in HPC and research data storage.

The new HPC machine, nicknamed BlueCrystal 4 or BC4, was designed, integrated and configured by OCF in collaboration with Lenovo, DDN, IBM and VIRTUS Data Centres.

BC4 has more than 15,000 cores, making it the largest UK University system by core count and having a theoretical peak performance of 600 Teraflops, which means the cluster sits well into the TOP500, reaching 301.

Over 1,000 researchers in areas such as paleobiology, earth science, biochemistry, mathematics, physics, molecular modeling, life sciences, and aerospace engineering will be taking advantage of the new system. BC4 is already aiding research into new medicines and drug absorption by the human body.

Designing, integrating and configuring such an advanced supercomputer is no mean feat; BC4 uses Lenovo NeXtScale compute nodes, each comprised of two 14-core 2.4GHz Intel Broadwell CPUs with 128 GiB or RAM. It also includes 32 nodes of two NVIDIA Pascal P100 GPUs.

The cluster is connected through several high speed networks, the fastest is a two-level Intel Omni-Path Architecture running at 100Gb/s. There’s a Petabyte of disk storage from DDN’s GS7K and IME systems running the Spectrum Scale Parallel File System from IBM.

Due to space requirements the HPC machine is housed at VIRTUS’ LONDON4, which is the UK’s first shared data centre for research and education in Slough.

Attracting researchers, groups and grants is very important for Universities such as Bristol. As such, making the investment and working with OCF to provide world-class supercomputing facilities at the University will mean Bristol can attract and retain talented scientists working on some of the world’s most important projects.

As presented at the BC4 launch event held in May, BC4 played a pivotal part in a €1.8m study into Ebola, allowing the research team to examine how the virus has evolved and informing heath policy in key areas such as diagnostic testing, vaccine deployment and experimental treatment options.

If you’d like to know more about Bristol and BC4 you can read about it online in Data Centre Dynamics, Storage Newsletter or HPCWire. I’d love to hear your thoughts too, leave a comment below or get in touch here.


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