University of Warwick to offer High Performance Computing to businesses

The University of Warwick is planning to sell High Performance Computing (HPC) power to businesses through OCF’s enCORE service.

OCF, the data processing, management and storage provider, launched enCORE, an on-demand service that allows any UK business to use processing power from universities’ HPC facilities, last December.

Warwick is currently developing the capability to offer the commercial service, with the intention to launch it as soon as possible.

The university joins the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory, which was one of the first organisations to sign up to the service.

Warwick awarded OCF a £1.3 million contract for a new Linux-based HPC facility at its Centre for Scientific Computing (CSC) in November 2010.

The server and storage cluster was built using IBM hardware, including the IBM System x iDataPlex server. It uses 274 IBM System xiDataPlex dx360 M3 servers each with two Intel Xeon X5650 2.66 GHz 6 core processors.

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The system also features six IBM iDataPlex servers with 12 Nvidia GPU processors, as well as 120 TeraBytes of shared storage.

Since going live in July 2011, the university has been using the HPC facility for research in a wide range of departments, including chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science and systems biology. It hopes to expand the access to other departments, including to life sciences and the business school.

The research using the new server cluster includes Computational Fluid Dynamic modelling, and the study of dynamics of electrically-conducting fluids such as metal liquids (Magneto Hydro Dynamics, or MHD).

With a peak performance of 35.75 TeraFlops, Warwick said that the new server and storage cluster was a significant improvement on the university’s existing three-year-old cluster.

“The main significant benefit is a serious increase in performance – three or four times more powerful, and quicker than what we had before,” said Matthew Ismail, HPC manager at Warwick.