GW4 Tier 2 HPC: Isambard

The GW4 Alliance, together with Cray Inc. and the Met Office, has been awarded £3m by EPSRC to deliver a new Tier 2 high performance computing (HPC) service for UK-based scientists. This unique new service, named ‘Isambard’ after the renowned Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, will provide multiple advanced architectures within the same system in order to enable evaluation and comparison across a diverse range of hardware platforms.

Students talking in data center
‘Isambard’ will benefit scientists across the UK

“This is an exciting time in high performance computing,” says Prof Simon McIntosh-Smith, leader of the project and Professor of High Performance Computing at the University of Bristol. “Scientists have a growing choice of potential computer architectures to choose from, including new 64-bit ARM CPUs, graphics processors, and many-core CPUs from Intel. Choosing the best architecture for an application can be a difficult task, so the new Isambard GW4 Tier 2 HPC service aims to provide access to a wide range of the most promising emerging architectures, all using the same software stack. Isambard is a unique system that will enable direct ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons across architectures, thus enabling UK scientists to better understand which architecture best suits their application.”

“At Cray, our mission is to help our customers solve the most demanding technical and scientific problems, and we are constantly evaluating new technologies that can help achieve that,” explains Adrian Tate, director of Cray’s EMEA Research Lab. “We are excited to be a part of this important collaboration with GW4 and the Met Office as we work together to explore and evaluate diverse processing technologies within a unified architecture. By building a Centre of Excellence with GW4 and technology partners, we expect deep insights into application efficiency using new processing technologies, and we relish the opportunity to share these insights with the UK scientific community.”

Paul Selwood, Manager for HPC Optimisation at the Met Office says: “The Met Office is very excited to be involved with this project, which builds on existing collaborations with both Cray and the GW4 Alliance. This system will enable us, in co-operation with our partners, to accelerate insights into how our weather and climate models need to be adapted for these emerging CPU architectures.”

To find out more about Isambard, GW4’s Tier 2 HPC service, please contact Professor Simon McIntosh-Smith at cssnmis@bristol.ac.uk, or call 0117 33 15324.

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Isambard was shortlisted for a Times Higher Award under the category of Technological Innovation of the Year.

Professor Simon McIntosh-Smith presented at the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt

GW4’s Isambard project was mentioned in the ‘This week in HPC’ podcast.

GW4 Tier 2 HPC presentation delivered by Professor Simon McIntosh-Smith at the Mont-Blanc HPC conference in Barcelona

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