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Faculty of Engineering

Computer packs the punch of 500,000 iPads

Friday 8th March 13

new supercomputer hosted at the University of LeedsA new supercomputer hosted at the University of Leeds is offering businesses and academic researchers across the North of England world-class computing power.

The N8 High Performance Computing (N8 HPC) centre, launched on March 7, puts one of the world’s 250 most powerful computers, called Polaris, at the disposal of researchers at the universities of Leeds, Manchester, Durham, Lancaster, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle, and their industry partners.

The supercomputer is capable of a peak performance of 110 trillion operations per second–the approximate equivalent of the combined processing power of 500,000 iPads.

The £3.25 million facility, which is based on the existing N8 Research Partnership involving the North’s leading research-intensive universities, will also offer consulting and e-infrastructure training to lower the barriers for companies wanting access to its processing power.

Professor David Hogg, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds and N8 HPC Co-Director, said: “By providing support and expertise to maximise the opportunities that the N8 HPC offers, we aim to make it easier for industry across a wide range of sectors to access high performance computing, enabling existing university-industry collaborations to be further developed and new partnerships to be forged.”  

The centre, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), will enable academic and private sector researchers to build more realistic models based on large amounts of data and undertake more complex analyses in areas including the life sciences, energy, digital media and aerospace.

Professor Hogg said: “N8 HPC creates a further opportunity for even greater collaboration between universities and businesses, as well as enabling deeper partnerships between institutions.”

Professor Chris Taylor, N8 HPC Co-Director at the University of Manchester, which jointly runs the facility, said: “The creation of N8 HPC, with one of the UK’s leading high-performance computing facilities, will underpin world-leading research across our universities, and enhance our ability to engage with industry to solve important real-world problems.  The facility will allow us to tackle more complex modelling and ‘big data’ challenges, whilst the academic and support networks we are building around it will make high-performance computing accessible to a wider range of university and industry researchers.”

More than 100 representatives from leading UK businesses joined small and medium-sized enterprises from across the North of England and delegates from the N8 universities at a launch event on March 7.

Richard Barrington, Business Development Director of Iceotope, which designs and manufactures advanced liquid-cooling systems for computer servers, said: “By being able to tap into multi-disciplinary knowledge and expertise and having a 'critical friend' in the shape of the University of Leeds, we have been able to design, engineer and deliver one of the most energy-efficient integrated computer cooling systems there is.  

Iceotope already has a close relationship with the University of Leeds and the N8 Research Partnership and is exploring how the new facility can support its research.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises should be making more use of the specialist skills and knowledge that exist within our universities to help them tackle highly complex problems. From getting assistance with modelling, advanced fluid dynamics, and systems research right through to testing, we are grateful for the broad spectrum of support this collaboration has brought, and we welcome the opportunity to use N8 HPC to complement the partnership we are already benefiting from,” Mr Barrington added.

Training is provided through a combination of hands-on workshops and online courses. All training is modular so that researchers can choose the right mix of support for their particular needs.

Further information

Contact: Chris Bunting, Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone 0113 343 2049

Media inquiries to N8 HPC:  Dawn Tudge, Horizonworks Marketing; phone: 07816 231 940, email: dawn@horizonworks.co.uk . The N8 HPC website is at www.n8hpc.org.uk.