Hartree Centre to take delivery of powerful new generation supercomputer

DATE 21st February 2017

Industry leading digital services company Atos UK&I, has announced a major collaboration with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre which includes the purchase of the first Bull sequana X1000 supercomputer system in the UK and one of the most powerful in the world.

The collaboration is focused on a number of activities aimed at addressing the Government’s Industrial Strategy which encourages closer collaboration between academia and industry, including:

  • The launch of a new UK based High Performance Computing (HPC) as a Service Offering (HPCaaS) providing an extremely beneficial way for organisations both large and small to take advantage of extreme computing performance through easily accessible cloud portals without having to become experts on the underlying technology.
  • ‘Deep Learning’ as a service (DLaaS); an emerging cognitive computing technique with broad applicability from automated voice recognition to medical imaging. The technology can be used, for example, to automatically detect anomalies in mammography scans with a higher degree of accuracy than the human eye.
  • Enhancing small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) access by encouraging high-tech business innovation amongst the SME community across the UK.

The partnership will also encompass areas such as co-design to develop next generation hardware and software solutions and application optimisation services to allow maximum benefit to be gained from commercial and academic users of the Hartree systems.

A key focus of the collaboration will be energy efficient computing – tools and techniques that can be used to reduce the energy footprint of large supercomputers. Bull sequana’s state-of-the-art packaging and cooling technology has been designed to accommodate future generations of processor, interconnect and accelerator technology that will allow exascale levels of performance to be realised whilst at the same time offering a reduced environmental footprint. The new Bull sequana system will be listed high within the Green500 list of most energy efficient computers.

The supercomputer will be approximately 3.4 PFlops when installed and is composed of Intel® Xeon® and many core Xeon Phi™(Knights Landing) processor technology.  It has been designed to accommodate future blade systems for Deep Learning, GPU and ARM based computing. The new supercomputer will allow both academic and industry organisations to try out the latest technology and develop applications using the latest advances in artificial intelligence and high performance data analytics.

As such, the Bull Sequana system will aid Hartree in continuing to be one of the ‘go-to’ places in the UK for technology evaluation, supporting the work of major companies in fields ranging from engineering and consumer goods to healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Andy Grant, Head of Big Data and HPC, Atos UK&I: “We believe that our Bull supercomputing technology, people and collaborative approach will reinforce the Centre’s reputation as a world class HPC centre of excellence and as the flagship model for industry-academic collaboration.

“Atos’ HPC innovation also delivers environmental benefits as use of direct liquid cooling technology means Bull sequana is amongst the most energy efficient general purpose supercomputer ever built.”

Alison Kennedy, Director of the Hartree Centre said: “The Hartree Centre works at the leading edge of emerging technologies and provides substantial benefits to the many industrial and research organisations that come to us.  Our collaboration with Atos will ensure that we continue to enable businesses, large and small, to make the best use of supercomputing and Big Data to develop better products and services that will boost productivity and drive growth.”

Through its collaborative approach to the partnership, Atos UK&I, which is developing a thought leadership paper on HPC, is helping promote participation in STEM careers at higher education level and beyond, particularly across the North West.