The University of Southampton has turned on one of the UK's most powerful university-based supercomputers.

The ‘Iridis4’ machine is said to be the third largest academic supercomputing facility in the UK, and is also in the overall top ten of the most powerful supercomputers in the UK.

Dr Oz Parchment, director of research for computing at the University of Southampton, said: “There is an ever increasing demand for the use of supercomputing power for research and this new machine will provide the opportunity for even more academics to work on a greater number of projects, at faster speeds.”

In a deal worth £3.2 million, Southampton’s new supercomputer is powered by IBM Intelligent Cluster systems and is designed, integrated and supported by OCF, the HPC (high performance computing), data management, storage and analytics company.

It is four times more powerful than its predecessor Iridis3 and has 12,200 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor cores, a petabyte (or one-million gigabytes) of disc space, with 50 terabytes of memory.

The new machine is one of very few in the UK to include Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, which can take control of some of the most demanding mathematical calculations to significantly increase its processing power. The Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors are each capable of running at one teraflop (one trillion calculations per second).

Iridis4 will mainly be used for research by university staff and students across a wide variety of disciplines, from engineering to archaeology and medicine to computer science. It is estimated that around 350 projects are likely to be run on the machine in the first year.

The University of Southampton’s Iridis3 will remain in operation, providing an important resource for industrial research through the e-Infrastructure South Consortium, which includes other universities.