Fujitsu Wins Major HPC Wales Project

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Fujitsu will re-enter the European market with a £15m lighthouse supercomputing partner project

Wales is set to become a centre of supercomputing excellence following the announcement that Fujitsu has won a major high-performance computing (HPC) deal there earlier today.

The Japanese multinational won a competitive tendering process that involved a number of unnamed, but major HPC players after the project to create an HPC centre of excellence in Wales was announced last July 2010.

Making waves in European market

The win marks Fujitsu’s re-entry to the HPC market in the UK after 10 years, and will see it provide a provide a distributed grid for HPC Wales during the four-year, £15 million local, regional and European Union-funded project.

David Craddock, chief executive of HPC Wales, told eWEEK Europe UK that all the major HPC companies were considered during the tender process.

“But it was Fujitsu’s vision of establishing a more distributed network of HPC capacity, with a focus on users across both private and public sectors, that was attractive,” he said.

The HPC Wales project will include over 1,400 nodes across more than eight sites linked using Fujitsu’s middleware technology SynfiniWay to deliver an aggregated performance of compute nodes of more than 190 teraflops.

The system will operate out of two primary hubs in Cardiff and Pembroke Dock and consist mainly of Fujitsu Primergy cluster servers based on Intel Xeon and InfiniBand interconnect running on Linux and Windows operating systems. It is expected to be operational before the end of 2011.

Joe Duran, Fujitsu HPC Wales account director, said the ability of the Fujitsu bid to provide “a distributed HPC cluster based on an abstract management and scheduling system and portal at the front end that seeks to provide full HPC access from first login, as well as allowing those with the expertise to get into the guts of the system,” was the differentiator for the Fujitsu bid.

“We want to make HPC available to a broad spectrum of public and private users at all levels of HPC skill, from traditional academia to the SME [small-to-midsized enterprise] that just wants to harness large amounts of raw compute power,” he added.

Duran said the tender outlined how Fujitsu would handle critical security requirements that will allow for the dynamic provisioning of workloads, while providing failover capability in case any part of the cluster fails. In doing so, he said the project would provide an important “lighthouse project” for the company in the region, much like the RIKEN supercomputer it provides in Japan.

Part of regional regeneration

HPC Wales is expected to bring an additional economic impact of £22.8 million over 10 years; create over 400 jobs, and create a minimum of 10 new businesses. Fujitsu will also use its existing local presence and global expertise to maximise knowledge transfer opportunities, including the funding of 20 PhD or Masters-based research projects.

The project will also be used to boost progress in priority areas such as the environment, low-carbon energy generation, the life sciences, advanced materials and manufacturing.

The other academic sites linked by the HPC Wales cluster will include Swansea, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan, Swansea Met, Newport and Glyndwr.

The charitable, not-for-profit project is funded by £19 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) channelled through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), which is an executive agency of the National Assembly for Wales; £10 million from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS); £4 million from collaborating institutions and £5 million from the Welsh Assembly Government and private sector and research income.

The £40 million investment will cover equipment, management and operational costs over the first five years to 2015. Fujitsu will work with technology partners, including Intel, Platform Computing, Microsoft, Mellanox, DDN, Cisco and Symantec, to deliver the project.

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