Emerging Tech

Supercomputer aims at archaeology, engineering and health projects

Researchers have just powered up one of the UK's most powerful supercomputers - and they're going to keep it very busy.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have switched on the most powerful university-based supercomputer in England.

The university's Iridis4 will also rank in the top 10 of the UK's supercomputers. It is four times more powerful than its predecessor Iridis3 and has 12,200 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor cores - a combined 250 teraflops - a petabyte of disk space and 50 terabytes of memory. 

The supercomputer includes 24 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors each capable of running at one teraflop - one trillion calculations per second.

Dr Oz Parchment, director of research computing at Southampton, said in a statement: "There is an ever-increasing demand for the use of supercomputing power for research and this new machine will provide the opportunity for even more academics to work on a greater number of projects, at faster speeds."

Iridis4 will be used for research across a variety of disciplines, from engineering to archaeology and medicine, with around 350 projects running on the machine in the first year.

For example, researchers are using supercomputing power on work to aid the design of new systems to deploy stents in patients with coronary artery disease. 

High-performance computing is also being used to investigate sources of noise caused by aerofoils, such as in fan blades in aircraft engines, using computer simulations to explore the airflow over the blade as aerodynamic noise is generated by turbulence. 

Accurately predicting turbulence is extremely difficult and requires enormous computational resource, the university said.

While the Iridis4 may be in the top 30 academic computational facilities in the world, it's still considerably behind the planet's biggest supercomputing beast, the Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2.

The Chinese supercomputer includes 16,000 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors for a combined total of 3,120,000 computing cores, according to the Top 500 supercomputer list.

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

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