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University Of Edinburgh To Sell Supercomputing Power

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The university is to sell access to its new 2,016-core Cirrus system along with support from the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre

The University of Edinburgh is to sell access to a newly installed supercomputer to businesses or other organisations who want to carry out complex computing tasks.

The £1m system, called Cirrus, is based on SGI’s ICE XA supercomputing architecture and has more than 2,000 cores, the university said.

Complex tasks

Edinburgh, capital city of ScotlandIt suggested Cirrus could be used for everything from engineering devices to solving genetic calculations to designing buildings or developing products and services – delivering calculations in hours that might otherwise take weeks.

The system is housed at the university’s Advanced Computing Facility at its Easter Bush campus in Midlothian, outside of the City of Edinburgh, and is supported by the university’s Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC).

“This newly installed computing power – in tandem with EPCC’s in-house expertise – means we are well placed to help businesses meet many of the computational challenges associated with developing new products and services,” said EPCC commercial manager George Graham in a statement.

Easter Bush also hosts the UK’s national supercomputing service, ARCHER, which clocks in at somewhat of a larger scale with 118,080 processing cores.

Easy access

The university is, however, aiming to make Cirrus easily accessible to businesses, charging £0.0369 per core hour exclusive of VAT and offering 1,000 free core hours and support to the first 20 organisations who apply to use it.

The facility is based on an Intel ICE XA 59 node cluster, with 56 compute nodes and three login nodes, according to the university.

Each node contains two 2.1 GHz, 18-core Intel Xeon E5-2695 (Broadwell) series processors, with each core supporting two hyperthreads.

The system thus offers 36 cores per node, for 2,016 cores in total, with Infiniband used for fast interconnects.

Users will have access to the system’s 200TB of disk space along with the EPCC’s data storage and archiving services.

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