Supercomputer power 'to drive economic growth' in Wales

Fujitsu has been awarded a £15 million contract for the five-year High Performance Computing Wales (HPC Wales) project.

HPC Wales is a £40 million, Welsh assembly government-backed project that aims to provide high performance computing services to businesses and universities across Wales, in a bid to boost the region’s economy.

Under the contract, Fujitsu will provide a distributed grid for HPC, with the main supercomputer power accessible at two primary hubs in Cardiff and Swansea. These will connect to smaller sites across Wales, which will provide users with a more limited amount of power as a taster for how they can take advantage of high performance computing for their research.

The smaller sites include all the universities across Wales, such as the University of Glamorgan, and business innovation centres.

The system will use Fujitsu Primergy cluster servers based on Intel Xeon and InfiniBand interconnect, with Linux and Windows operating systems. The distributed infrastructure is connected using Fujitsu’s middleware technology SynfiniWay. More than 1,400 compute nodes will be deployed across all the sites, with the aggregated performance of nodes exceeding 190 Teraflops.

David Craddock, CEO at HPC Wales, said that supercomputer power could be used by Welsh businesses in a range of areas. For instance, the technology could be used to make improvements to the supply chain for the modelling of risks for insurance companies, or, in the manufacturing sector, for improving simulation and prototyping technologies.

“The aim of the project is to see how we can help support Welsh businesses,” said Craddock.

He added: “There are some funds available, especially for SMEs, to train them in the use of high performance computing and to give them taster sessions, to help them learn how to get value out of supercomputing.”

The new system’s infrastructure will be installed between now and the end of 2011, but Craddock expects to have projects up and running on the system within the next three to six months.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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