IBM to create HPC and big data centre of excellence in UK

datacenterIBM and the UK’s Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have jointly announced they will create a centre that tests how to use high performance computing (HPC) for big data analytics.

The Hartree Power Acceleration and Design Centre (PADC) in Daresbury, Cheshire is the first UK facility to specialise in modelling and simulation and their use in Big Data Analytics. It was recently the subject of UK government investment in big data research and was tipped as the foundation for chancellor George Osborne’s northern technology powerhouse.

The new facility launch follows the government’s recently announced investment and expansion of the Hartree Centre. In June Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson unveiled a £313 million partnership with IBM to boost Big Data research in the UK. IBM said it will further support the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million.

IBM’s contributions will include access to the latest data-centric and cognitive computing technologies, with at least 24 IBM researchers to be based at the Hartree Centre to work side-by-side with existing researchers. It will also offer joint commercialization of intellectual property assets produced in partnership with the STFC.

The supporting cast have a brief to help users to cajole the fullest performance possible out of all the components of the POWER-based system, and have specialised knowledge of architecture, memory, storage, interconnects and integration. The Centre will also be supported by the expertise of other OpenPOWER partners, including Mellanox, and will host a POWER-based system with the Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform. This will provide options for using energy-efficient, high-performance NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators and enabling software.

One of the target projects will be a search for ways to boost application performance while minimising energy consumption. In the race towards exascale computing significant gains can be made if existing applications can be optimised on POWER-based systems, said Dr Peter Allan, acting Director of the Hartree Centre.

“The Design Centre will help industry and academia use IBM and NVIDIA’s technological leadership and the Hartree Centre’s expertise in delivering solutions to real-world problems,” said Allan. “The PADC will provide world-leading facilities for Modelling and Simulation and Big Data Analytics. This will develop better products and services that will boost productivity, drive growth and create jobs.”